Migration has many faces. Millions of people leave their homes in search of safety, work and a better future. Switzerland worked for safe, legal migration in 2017.
Migration in focus
From Batticaloa to New York: Linking personal and global solutions for safe and regular migration
Sevanthy is caring for her three children in eastern Sri Lanka while her husband works in Qatar. The money he sends home is the only way for the family to send their children to school and to cover their basic needs. Through the SDC-funded Safe Labour Migration Programme, Sevanthy attended financial literacy training which now helps her to manage the money she receives once a month. Before she took the training, she found it a challenge to manage the remittances. Now she has learned to set spending priorities and to budget.
This initiative started in Sri Lanka in 2013. It contributes to the SDC’s overall strategy to ensure that migrants’ work benefits the development of countries and their communities, ensuring that no one is left behind.
Well-informed and employed under fair conditions
Taking up jobs abroad, mainly in the Middle East, is the only way for many Sri Lankans to sustain their families. But working in a foreign country comes with many challenges, especially for low skilled workers and the families they leave behind. The SDC helps people who feel compelled to migrate to understand their rights and obligations, and learn how to respond to difficult situations – in their job abroad and on their return. Their families receive help locally to cope with the absence of a father or mother and advice on managing the money received from abroad. Labour recruitment processes are made more transparent and compliant with international standards.
From personal experiences to global solutions
While challenges remain, the SDC has helped to bring governments, the private sector, employers and civil society together to improve the situation of migrant workers and their families. Its work with individuals, districts and governments is all embedded in regional processes in the Middle East and South East Asia. The regional dialogues bring national governments together to help ensure that migrants’ work benefits sustainable development.
Personal experiences and individual stories feed into global efforts to establish a common framework for migration governance. Efforts are under way to establish a global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration (GCM). Switzerland is facilitating this process as part of its work to reduce inequality (under Sustainable Development Goal 10 of the 2030 Agenda). The GCM efforts entail stocktaking followed by negotiations.
Taking realities from the small Sri Lankan village of Batticaloa – Sevanthy’s home town – to the international negotiations in New York means that experiences from all levels inform the comprehensive Global Compact on Migration. Including experiences of ordinary people will help make the Global Compact relevant and inclusive for everyone.
Mobility: a factor for development
West Africans have historically been among the world’s most mobile populations, although most of this migration has taken place within the region. "Mobility has traditionally been a factor in the development of West Africa. The SDC focuses its activities mainly on this circular migration, facilitating the free movement of goods and people in the region", explains Chantal Nicod, the head of the West Africa division.
Cross-border cooperation benefits West African communities
Via programmes developed at regional level, the SDC is helping to boost economies and create opportunities for mobility and regional integration. Swiss efforts in regional cross-border cooperation are improving people's access to services and infrastructure. In a region with a rapidly growing population, giving young people job prospects, promoting local economic development, citizenship, tolerance and peace can help to address the causes of migration. Nearly 10,000 nomadic herders received a basic education and almost 2,000 attended vocational training thanks to one SDC programme. More than a third of the beneficiaries were women. Through such programmes, the SDC helps to secure corridors for herds of livestock to pass through as a way to reduce conflict between nomadic and settled communities in sensitive border areas. Building on its experience on the ground, Switzerland is working at the national, international and global levels to find peaceful solutions to migration-related sustainable development issues. For example, Switzerland provides migration policy support to Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Benin and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Niger: at the intersection of regional migration challenges
At the intersection of migration routes between Sub-Saharan and North Africa, Niger is particularly affected by the challenges of migration. Between October 2016 and May 2017, more than 130,000 migrants travelled through the Agadez region. Niger also hosts a large number of people who fled their homes because of the repeated attacks by extremist group Boko Haram. The SDC supports a project run by Italian NGO COOPI, which provides psychosocial support and a safe environment for the victims. To promote a better understanding of the impact and potential of migration and associated phenomena on development, the SDC has created a dialogue group bringing together donors, researchers, civil society and the Nigerian government. It is also supporting studies by a group of researchers at the University of Niamey on various migration issues such as the return, reintegration and movement of migrants, security and regional integration issues, the migration of women and the links between migration, poverty and climate change.
SECO is helping create economic opportunities
SECO is helping create economic opportunities for people in its partner countries so that they do not feel compelled to emigrate. It supports programmes to this end that promote entrepreneurship and improve job seekers' skills and qualifications. It also provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to long-term capital and improves the environment in which they do business. Through such programmes, SECO is working to address the structural causes of migration in the long term.
The SECO Start-up Fund has proven highly successful. It provides loans of up to CHF 500,000 to Swiss-based investors looking to launch promising private enterprises in developing countries. The loans can amount to up to 50% of investment costs and must be repaid within five years. From its launch in 1998 to the end of 2017, the SECO Start-up Fund financed nearly 130 loans in 34 countries totalling CHF 36 million. It is estimated that one franc from the SECO Start-up Fund attracts a further CHF 10 of investment.
Helping workers in partner countries develop their skills and qualifications is another SECO priority. Well-trained workers are better integrated in the labour market and make their employers more competitive. In Egypt, Morocco and Jordan, SECO has supported the Economic Inclusion Programme of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) since the end of 2017. The programme helps the private sector develop training programmes tailored to the needs of businesses. The programme is aimed at sections of the population in which unemployment is especially high. This includes young adults, women and people from deprived regions.