by Lincoln DePradine
Senior officials in the Grenada Ministry of Foreign Affairs want nationals in the Diaspora, dubbed the country’s 16th constituency, to participate in an ongoing initiative that will conclude with parliamentary passage of a Grenada Diaspora Engagement Policy.
Among the components of the initiative are the conducting of a “skills gap analysis” and the completing of a Diaspora Mapping Project which involves using an online survey tool to collect information about the socio-economic profile of Grenadians in the Diaspora.
“I want to urge everyone in the Diaspora to get online and engage in that survey,” Hon. Peter David, Grenada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, appealed on Tuesday.
David was speaking at the official launch of the website for the Grenadian Diaspora For Development (GD4D) project.
The two-year project is funded in the amount of US$200,000 from the International Development Fund and administered through the Guyana-based regional coordinating office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a UN member-agency.
The mapping project is a data collection exercise “to learn more about the socio-economic profile of the Grenadian Diaspora in North America and the Caribbean – and to begin the creation of a database of skills for knowledge transfer,” said Trisha Mitchell-Darius, the IOM’s Project Officer for Grenada. “The survey is online at www.grenadiandiaspora.gd. “Please tell your family and friends out in the Diaspora,” she urged. “It’s open and available for all persons of Grenadian origin globally.”
Permanent Secretary in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Alva Browne, underscoring the importance of the mapping project, said that “without the mapping exercise, we would not be able to achieve much.”
The IOM-administered GD4D initiative began in February of this year. To date, Minister David and other members of the project team have hosted Diaspora outreach meetings in London, England, and Washington, USA. The next Diaspora outreach meeting, with David scheduled to be the keynote speaker, is Saturday, 16 November in Toronto, Canada.
“This project seeks to engage the Grenadian Diaspora globally. The project will facilitate a collection of data on skills, resources and the return interest and plans of those willing to support the development of Grenada, through organisations and institutions here in Grenada. The information collected through the project will help to guide government policies aimed at engaging the Diaspora,” Mitchell-Darius said Tuesday.
Apart from the mapping component, a consultant soon is to be hired, she said, “to assist us in gathering information regarding current and future skills gaps in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, and to facilitate a matching with the Diaspora.”
Another key activity planned is a remittance workshop, with banks, credit unions and companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram, to discuss ways of reducing the cost sending remittances to Grenada and on how remittances can be structured for national development.
“The talents and skills within the Diaspora are wide and varied,” said Browne. “It is our firm view, though, that if we engage in an organised and strategic manner, we can harness those skills and resources in national development.”
According to Minister David, “the Diaspora is not just a group of people out there who sometimes we rely on just to send this and send that for us. They should be engaged as a part of our development process.”
He added that the Grenada Diaspora is “our 16th constituency and must be treated as our 16th constituency, in that they must be integrated into national development.”
No reason exists, said the minister, why Grenadians abroad “cannot invest in hotels, individually or as a group. They can get involved in health. We have excellent health practitioners in the Diaspora.”
He emphasised that, “all areas of investment are open to persons in the Diaspora”, reiterating that he wants “all Grenadians – in the Diaspora, in Grenada – to become involved in the project.”
As far as the online survey is concerned, Mitchell-Darius said the highlights will include job, volunteer and investment opportunities. “Please take the survey so that Grenada knows how to connect with you when any of these opportunities arise,” Mitchell-Darius said.
She referred to it as a chance to “allow Grenada to be able to connect” with its overseas nationals “on a holistic level. As well, in terms of the draft Grenada Diaspora Engagement Policy, it is downloadable on the website www.grenadiandiaspora.gd. Please, take the opportunity to review that,” she said.
“If you have feedback, we’re accepting submissions until 31 December and/or if you are in a city near where the project team will be visiting, please come on out.”
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