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Migration and Sustainable Development in The Gambia (MSDG)

Primary GCM Objectives

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


2017 - Present

Type of practice


Latest content



Sub Regions:


The Gambia is a small country with big migration. Of a population of about 2.2 million, about 10 percent are emigrants. At about 30%, Gambia has the highest dependency on remittances in Africa. MSDG was established in January 2017 as an innovative diaspora-led Technical Assistance (TA) / Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP). Its first activity was the ‘Induction and Training Workshop for New Cabinet Ministers’ on 11 February 2017 in Gambia, a week after a cabinet was formed under a new democratic coalition government, after 22 years of dictatorship. MSDG was designed and is led by Prof. Gibril Faal, a recognised global expert on Migration, Diaspora and Development (MDD) who in the past 30 years, contributed significantly to the development of global MDD policy, and good practices in many countries across the world. MSDG aims to "enhance and expand the role of the Gambian diaspora in national development, as the Eighth Region of the country". The objectives are to expand and enhance: “diaspora participation in Gambian socioeconomic development policy and practice through institutionalised engagement”; and “capacity development of public institutions through diaspora-led Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP)”. The main beneficiaries are: Migrants and the Diaspora; Diaspora Organisations; Households and Communities; Ministries, Departments and Agencies; Civil Society Organisations; Public and Private Institutions; Rural and Urban Areas. The current Third Phase of the programme (MSDG3 2021-24) entail 52 distinct activities under the following 7 programmatic themes: Diaspora Participation in Policy; Remittances and Financial Inclusion; Diaspora Investment and Enterprise; Professional Training and Development; Technical Support for Stakeholders; Public Sector Institutional Cooperation; Internal Organisational Development. MSDG has a fully functional office and infrastructure in The Gambia. The current project (2012-24) has already raised over 4.5 million Euros (€4.5m), of which about €1.7m comprise cash grants and fees; and €2.8m comprise in-kind contributions from the Government of The Gambia, 52 MSDG Diaspora Fellows; and other development partners.


Main Implementing Organization(s)

GK Partners

Detailed Information

GK Partners

Partner/Donor Organizations

Government of Switzerland
Government of The Gambia

Benefit and Impact

The MSDG outputs and benefits include: Formulation of government policy and the first ever Gambian Diaspora Strategy (GDS); Declaration of the diaspora as the Eighth Region of The Gambia; Creation of the Gambia Diaspora and Migration Directorate (GDMD) within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Creation of Diaspora Advice Desk (DAD) at the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA); Research and analyses on ‘Remittance Factbook’; Technical cooperation with the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) on diaspora remittances resulting in UN Award to CBG, (Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development [GFRID] on 16 June 2023); Technical cooperation with the National Assembly (NA) on diaspora voting and representation, and setting up of NA Online Television; Technical cooperation with the Independent Electoral Commission on regulation and logistics of diaspora voting; Technical cooperation with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); Accredited training for officials from public, private and civil society sectors; Facilitation of bilateral and multilateral engagements; Convening of the annual Stake in the Nation Forum (SNF), and thematic Technical Roundtables (TRs) on policy and practice; Research and analyses on Migration, Diaspora and Development (MDD); Research and analysis of Gambian diaspora populations and profiles; Classification and typology of Gambian Diaspora Development Organisations (GDDOs); Creation of Diaspora Development Fund (DDF); Appointment of 52 MSDG Diaspora Fellows; Provision of cash grants (co-finance) of over 400,000 Euros for diaspora-led development initiatives in The Gambia; Facilitation of cultural collaboration with diaspora artists and promoters; Production, recording and dissemination of Gambian lullabies for diaspora families; Development of frameworks for Diaspora-Targeted Bonds.

The MSDG impacts can be summarised as: Start of process for diaspora electoral enfranchisement; National actions guided by a Gambian Diaspora Strategy; Increased credibility of remittance data; Increased funds to remittance recipients; Increased financial inclusion of communities; Introduction of new investment policies and practices; Inflow of new diaspora investments: Creation of new jobs created and improved livelihoods; Increased diaspora brain-gain and circular migration; Start of new rural development initiatives: Increased effectiveness of the Gambia Diaspora and Migration Directorate (GDMD); Improved diaspora-public sector cooperation.

The comprehensive MSDG services and activities are innovative and pioneering. As such, the iterative and transparent Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) process cover entail: Setting Performance Targets; Data Collection; Variance Analysis; Compliance Analysis; Impact Review; Excellence Evaluation; Findings and Observations; Extrapolations and Policy Implications; Recommendations and Action Points; Process Audit.

Key Lessons

The main implementation challenges were: Fundraising for programme co-finance; Large international agencies with long history of receiving funding, proposing services and activities similar to those offered by MSDG; COVID19 pandemic disruptions; Initiation of new rural development activities; Diverse socioeconomic profiles of diaspora populations.

The challenges were overcome through:

Institutional Partnerships: Exceeding fundraising needs by creating mutually beneficial and complementary partnerships with government institutions that have existing funding streams, and creating co-financing projects with over 50 diaspora development practitioners;

Value-for-Money and Excellence: Preventing all funding going to large international agencies by demonstrating MSDG’s extensive value-for-money, effective innovations, partnerships with credible institutions, and overall excellence;

Flexibility for Solutions: Flexible solution-oriented emergency response to COVID19 pandemic threats and disruptions by facilitating the largest single donation of face masks (1.6 million) to The Gambia through diaspora action and partnerships, and widening pre-pandemic innovations on online diaspora engagement;

Thematic Rural Partnerships: Facilitated a diverse range of rural development projects through thematic partnerships with diaspora Hometown and Community Associations (HCA), and partnerships with the Rural Development Institute;

Practical Support for Participation: Facilitated participation of migrants and diaspora from diverse educational and socioeconomic profiles in the MSDG programme by providing practical, technical and administrative support, and one-to-one assistance to diaspora project leaders.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

MSDG produced the first ever Gambian Diaspora Strategy (GDS) which was adopted and incorporated in the Gambia National Development Plan (NDP 2018-2021) in January 2018. Although the GDS is older than the GCM, its provisions are remarkably similar to the GCM Objectives. This is because MSDG incorporates globally accepted good practices on Migration, Diaspora and Development (MDD). MSDG has been tested and improved for over six years in The Gambia (a small country with big migration). It serves as an effective and sustainable programme for enhanced implementation of major aspects of the GCM and SDGs.

The main components and action points for replications are:

Focus on good practices that deliver extensive value-for-money results
Be innovative by piloting and implementing new, creative and impactful solutions
Take calculated risks on initiatives and innovations that can have major positive impacts
Create new action and result oriented institutional and stakeholder partnerships
Leverage, complement and enhance the existing strengths, resources and programmes of potential partners
Understand the key programme ‘commissions (what to do)’ and ‘omissions (what not to do)’
Demonstrate the benefits and relevance of the replication in relation to relevant frameworks
Focus on achievement of the GCM, SDG, regional and/or national policies and priorities
Develop a comprehensive project/business plan with credible budgets and a summary version for partners Use the MSDG frameworks as ‘editable templates’, rather than rigid blueprints.


Yes, the practice meets the eligibility criteria.

Almost all Low and Middle Income Countries LMICs) have made extensive use of Technical Assistance (TA) and Technical Cooperation Programmes (TCP) for decades, to develop and deliver specialist projects, create new national agencies and institutions, and deliver programmes linked to national strategies or internationally agreed obligations. These TAs/TCPs are usually led by United Nations and other international agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations and development consultancy companies. This is the case despite the fact that the diaspora of these countries include world class technical experts, and their commitment and contribution is countercyclical, resilient and enduring in nature. MSDG is an innovative pioneer of ‘structured diaspora-led TA and TCP’, with the effect of: bringing required diversity in the international cooperation sector; moving from ‘mainstreaming’ to ‘institutionalising’ diaspora contributions; structuring, enhancing and expanding brain-gain and self-help; optimising and leveraging the Migration, Diaspora and Development nexus.

MSDG has undertaken about 100 specific development activities since 2017, almost all being new to The Gambia, and nonexistent in most LMICs. About 75 of these activities have: inspired and catalysed similar or related practices, projects and initiatives; been incorporated and ‘localised’ within the activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and Non State Institutions (NSIs); had transformative and lasting positive effects on beneficiary institutions and individuals; broken down barriers and impediments to cooperation and development; created frameworks for ongoing dialogue for sustainable and inclusive development.

MSDG started as a seven-month pilot project of €28,000, and the current Third Phase (July 2021 to June 2024) is operating on a budget of €4.5 million, demonstrating the scalability of the programme. It is also designed as a mechanism for delivering outputs and impacts on Migration, Diaspora and Development, by applying, innovating and implementing global best practices and excellence. Through MSDG, The Gambia (small country, big migration) has been the pilot country for a comprehensive approach to diaspora-led delivery of a significant part of the Global Compact on Migration (GCM) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is ready for replication and rebranding to Migration and Sustainable Development – Gambia (MSD - Gambia).


Gambian Lullabies Volume 1 MSDG YARAM Original

Gambian Lullabies Volume 1 MSDG YARAM Original

Date submitted:

11 August 2023

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.



*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).