Making the most of migration in Moldova

30 June 2016. Diana, a Moldovan native living in Oslo, Norway, has fond memories of her home and of her childhood. Despite her willingness to give back to her homeland, opportunities were lacking to engage in impactful activities that could improve the livelihoods of her loved ones. Connecting with her hometown was limited to online interactions with family and friends. “The only way I could find out about my village was through phone and skype calls with my parents, who are mostly aware about relatives and friends. It was difficult to understand the actual local situation, and thus engage in the social and economic life of the community” Diana says.

About one third of the active Moldovan labor force has migrated permanently or temporarily in the last decade, depriving the country from vital forces and leaving behind children and elders. But, Moldovan diaspora is highly investing back in the homeland. Moldova is among the world's top remittance recipients contributing about 22% of the GDP. The money sent from abroad fueled an increase in consumption and has contributed to empowering segments of disadvantaged groups, reducing poverty, enhancing schooling of children and stimulating local business. However, rural population still remains the most vulnerable, with limited access to essential services – education, health care, clean water and sanitation (43% of the rural population is not connected to water infrastructure), and a lack of employment, fueling again migration.

Moldovan migrants’ savings represent a vastly underexploited pool of private capital, amounting to billions of euros that could be invested to improve public services if local development policies could leverage the diaspora and meaningfully engage migrants to contribute to the development of their home communities.

Diana spent her childhood living in a small village, Vorniceni, lacking most basic services. Selected as one of 25 communities in Moldova to participate in the UNDP Migration and Local Development Project (MiDL), Vorniceni will see pilot initiatives to engage Moldovan diaspora together with local authorities to promote local essential service improvement, knowledge and skills transfer, and income generating and employment opportunities.

Supporting the continuous participation and involvement of both local and migrant populations in the planning and decision-making processes, UNDP oversees technical and logistical support to build local public authorities capacity and resolve needs. Over 30,000 Moldovan migrants living abroad will have the opportunity to participate in the local development of their home towns, thanks to the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

“This is a huge innovation for our village, an incredible opportunity for our natives to come back anytime, with ideas, experience, support, contributions and projects. This way we will be able to ensure a higher level of transparency, participation and consultation of our natives who are abroad, in all planning and decision making processes, thus building trust and engaging them in joint local development initiatives”, says Ms. Viorica Mamaliga, migration local focal point, Vorniceni mayoralty.

One of the first activity of the programme was to set up an online transmission system that brings together migrants and local community to discuss needs and priority. As a result, local authorities from Vorniceni, inhabitants who had to move to another region and over 50 migrants abroad met virtually and decided on how best to support the community. Besides basic support packages, the participants decided to send school material and clothes for children from 15 vulnerable families from the village, thus preventing the phenomenon of school abandonment due to poverty.

The Migration and Local Development Project (MiDL) is part of a multi-year intervention “Moldova – Making the Most of Migration” of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and is implemented in synergy with two other projects carried out by the International Organization for Migration(IOM) in Moldova and by the International Agency for Source Country Information (IASCI).

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