Ahead of the International Day of Family Remittances, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze has called for greater recognition of the vital financial contribution migrants make to the economic stability of their families and countries.
“The remittances sent back to relatives provide a lifeline, particularly to tens of millions of families living in fragile or post-conflict societies,” Nwanze said in a statement yesterday.
“Remittances can help rebuild the fabric of societies, spark economic development, and bring the stability necessary for a hopeful future.”
In 2015, some 250 million migrants living outside their countries of origin sent nearly $450 billion back home in remittances. Over the same period, 60 million people were forcibly displaced due to violent conflict and political upheaval, including 20 million refugees who fled across international borders.
Although headlines and news reports often focus on the number of migrants and refugees on the move, Nwanze stressed that a fundamental reality is often overlooked.
“No matter how many people leave their home countries to escape poverty or conflict, many more remain behind,” he said. “It is important to focus on those living in distressed regions where the positive impact of remittances can count the most.”
Nwanze cited Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and El Salvador as examples of conflict societies that have been rebuilt with the help of remittances. More recently, IFAD-supported activities among the Somali diaspora in Europe and the United States have resulted in targeted investments that have had a positive impact on Somalia’s agriculture
Over the last decade, IFAD has piloted remittance programs in more than 40 developing countries, helping to aid the flow of funds and giving families more options to invest their money and create opportunities for business development and employment.
As an indication of the transformative potential of remittances, Nwanze said that the new Sustainable Development Goals have set a target of 15 years to end extreme poverty. Within this time, migrants abroad will have sent an accumulated $7.5 trillion to their hometowns in developing countries.
The International Day of Family Remittances was unanimously proclaimed by all 176 member states of IFAD’s Governing Council held in February 2015.