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UNDP Five Pillar Approach to Engage Diasporas in Local Development

Primary GCM Objectives

Secondary 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)


2015 - 2018

Type of practice



UNDP five pillar approach to engage migrants in the development of their native communities back home aims to connect emigrants with their native localities by meaningfully engaging them in all stages of local development, hence transforming emigration from a challenge for a local community into an opportunity, and by integrating diaspora engagement in the local development agenda.

The approach is based on studies demonstrating the willingness of emigrants and diasporas to be engaged and invest in their home-communities, and that many Governments committed to link migration and development at the local level. At the same time, when the approach was developed, there were no systematic approaches on migration and local development to link diaspora and their local governments. UNDP developed this approach and then started to pilot it the Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent region (ECIS).

The objective of the approach is to create an enabling environment for communities deeply affected by emigration by linking them with their emigrants and diaspora as to improve essential local services, namely water and sanitation, health, social and education services, and have access to income-generating opportunities. The five pillars for sustainable local development with emigrants and diasporas in the approach are:

1) mainstreaming emigration at institutional level;

2) mainstreaming emigration in local policymaking;

3) shaping diaspora involvement through the establishment of “hometown associations”; 

4) supporting meaningful diaspora interventions through joint local projects, and

5) ensuring sustainability and scaling up of the model.

The approach works via the establishment of Hometown Associations, as tools to build sustainable partnerships between migrants and local authorities and ensure the necessary institutional framework for a meaningful and systematic participation of migrants in the development of their native communities back home. It was designed as a methodology to be easily scaled up and replicated in other countries in the region or elsewhere.


Main Implementing Organization(s)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Detailed Information


Partner/Donor Organizations

National and Local Governments
Diaspora homebased organizations - Hometown Associations
Private sector

Benefit and Impact

The approach played a guiding role in mainstreaming emigration in local development and was piloted in one country – Moldova (see practice submitted by the Government of Moldova). The results achieved by local governments and hometown associations showed the multifaceted engagement of emigrants and the diaspora and proved that migration can bring tangible benefits at the local level, both for the local population, for diaspora members and for their families left behind.

Hometown associations linking the migrants abroad with their communities and local government representatives proved to have the capacities to pool financial and other resources to undertake actions for the benefit of communities.

The piloting of the approach in Moldova showed that partnerships between the local governments and hometown associations fostered socioeconomic development and multi-stakeholder engagement, including improved livelihoods, and mitigated some of the disparities, inequalities and challenges caused by emigration in their country – and communities – of origin. In the piloting of the approach in Moldova, at least 300,000 people benefited of improved local basic services and 180 private sector beneficiaries benefited of financial and technical support, resulting in aprox. 700 jobs created at the local level (incl. 70% women and 33% youth).

The model of emigrants’ engagement developed and piloted by UNDP was scaled up to an additional over 150 localities in the ECIS region.

The UNDP 5 Pillar approach is human rights- and gender equality based: one important criterion of the community development projects’ implementation was to respond to the gender and human rights needs in the community, and to involve male and female migrants and local population members

Key Lessons

a) If local governments are properly capacitated and equipped with knowledge and tools, they can play a key role in transforming the impact of emigration from a problem into an opportunity for local development.

b) The establishment of Hometown Associations is an efficient tool to build sustainable partnerships between migrants and local authorities and ensure the necessary institutional framework for a meaningful and systematic participation of migrants in the development of their native communities back home.

c) Transparency proved to be a key enabler of migrant involvement: a key success factor for the implementation of the approach in Moldova via projects was the open, effective communication throughout all stages of the process. Offering emigrants and diaspora the possibility to participate as key stakeholders in local development, allowed them to voice their ideas and concerns throughout the mainstreaming process, which was crucial for the success of joint local projects implemented, and a likely determinant factor for their future interest to invest in their native communities. Disparities and inequalities were specifically reduced through transparency, effective communication, cooperation and shared responsibility between all actors involved in local development, from the planning and co-design stage up to the celebration of success.

d) The use of crowdfunding platforms proved to be the best option for local governments to support the fundraising for local projects, while also ensuring transparency, accountability, and participation. Taken together, new income-generating opportunities and better local services, co-designed, co-implemented and co-funded jointly by UNDP, migrants, local governments, and the private sector, contributed to more effective local governance, and higher levels of transparency and trust, which ultimately led to improved sustainable and inclusive local development.

e) In the Moldovan piloting, distance often proved to be a challenge to contribute financially to local development. Remittances sent back home were mostly used for consumption: to facilitate migrants’ financial contributions, local crowdfunding platforms were used allowing for a fast, effective and transparent way for migrants to invest in the local development of their native village.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

• Understanding the local context is key to design interventions where the 5 pillars approach can be used: in Moldova, baseline data, even if preliminary or incomplete, was essential in order to understand the local context and to design future interventions. Data helps in visualizing the specific local factors related to migrants’ intention to engage in local development, as well as planning for next steps. Reliable qualitative and quantitative data from the baseline need to be available to create a precise picture of emigration patterns, issues, challenges and opportunities, as well as existing institutions and stakeholders, and their strengths and weaknesses, in order to anchor mainstreaming processes in local realities and respond to needs, challenges and opportunities.

• Prior to pilot the approach it is essential to engage with strong and motivated local governments that show potential for results and for understanding how emigration could benefit their development. This will facilitate the creation of successful “springboard models” for further scaling.

• To ensure that the associations will continue to be functional after the approach is applied via projects or initiatives, it is important to ensure a strong sense of purpose, institutional set-up and clear structure, including relevant management and control bodies. In the specific context of Moldova, the central Government was so keen and engaged to pick up the initiative an keep it alive.

• Engaging the members of the diaspora from the onset of local planning processes is crucial, as it determines their interest in further involvement.

• This needs to be accompanied by transparent consultation and communication throughout the process. Diaspora contributions have the potential to become a reliable alternative funding source for local community development, alongside being a source of human, social and cultural capital.


The UNDP 5 Pillar approach on engaging diaspora in local development, as demonstrated by its piloting in the ECIS region, helped local governments to change their negative approach and thinking towards emigration from their communities, making concrete efforts to transform migration from a problem into an opportunity at local level, engaging and bringing on board migrants as their sustainable partners. The approach is easily scaled up and extensible to other countries and regions.

For an easy replication of the model, a detailed practical Guide was developed aimed at providing practical insights to adapt the approach towards diaspora, migration and local development, to be used in other countries. It highlights the importance of building broad partnerships with national and local governments, United Nations agencies, the private sector, civil society (non-governmental/ community-based organizations, including those run by diaspora or migrant populations) and other stakeholders, for efficient and sustainable planning and operationalization of diaspora, migration and development approaches, with focus on local level.


Migration – an opportunity to develop Moldova

Date submitted:

04 May 2022

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).