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Working in Partnership with Diaspora Organisations

The role of diaspora in development has become increasingly popular in recent years as seen with the interest of institutions such as the World Bank, DFID and the mainstream British media. Some INGOs have also increased and formalised their engagement with the diaspora. For example, since 2005 Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) has invested money and staff capacity to work with diaspora organisations. The DFID-VSO Diaspora Volunteering Programme (DVP) was initiated in 2008.

Through the DVP, VSO has worked in partnership with the Diaspora Volunteering Alliance (DVA) – an independent alliance of diaspora organisations – and more than 20 diaspora organisations to deliver more than 600 diaspora volunteer placements across Africa and Asia (a case study of this programme is included at the end of this report). Diaspora organisations, both country/continent-specific and umbrella groups, have been increasing not only in the UK (for example Connections for Development), but also in Africa (for example The African Diaspora Forum in South Africa).

Despite this increase in acknowledgement of the role diaspora groups play within the development sector, there has been little research into their partnership approach. Given the key role of partnerships within international development, this lack of research represents a missed opportunity to learn from what many claim to be a ‘unique’ form of development. This report addresses this and provides both contextual understanding and practical recommendations for INGOs, African organisations and diaspora organisations to work together. Whilst the research, and therefore the findings, focuses on the African diaspora, it is considered broadly relevant to working with other diaspora organisations in the UK, and possibly beyond, given the commonality of the issues identified here.

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