Interviews to mark International Migrants Day

Migration as a driver of development: how GIZ supports experts working in their countries of origin.

Regular labour migration offers many opportunities for individual migrants and their countries of origin, as well as for Germany. Nationals of other countries who have studied, trained and worked in Germany can use the knowledge they have acquired and their business ideas and contacts to help develop their countries of origin – and to create new prospects here in Germany.

For over 35 years, the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) has shown how migration can drive development. CIM is jointly run by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the International Placement Services of the German Federal Employment Agency (ZAV/BA). It brings together expertise in development policy and labour market policy.

Working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), CIM has since 1980 supported more than 15,000 highly skilled workers in contributing to development in their countries of origin. They include scientists, economists and engineers, among others. Experts with specialist knowledge and experience gained in Germany are now working in universities, political institutions, private sector companies and non-governmental organisations, contributing their ideas and enthusiasm to help their employers and their country develop.

Apekshya Dhungel is a good example. The young Nepali woman was studying landscape architecture in Freising when a massive earthquake hit her home country in 2015. She returned home to help support reconstruction with a German master’s degree. Through CIM, she found a job in an architectural practice in her home city of Kathmandu. She is now able to pass on what she learned in Germany and contribute new expertise. For example, in urban planning projects, she emphasises open areas such as parks that offer space for social encounters but also protection from earthquakes. The next stage in her career is a PhD in Germany.

CIM promotes various forms of labour mobility through what are known as ‘diaspora experts’. The scheme enables individuals from all occupational groups to undertake short-term assignments (up to six months) to pass on their knowledge and skills in their country of origin and then to return to Germany. Provided the assignment is relevant to development, the scheme is open to all – managers and lawyers or vehicle mechanics and skilled craft workers alike. Since the scheme was introduced a year ago, CIM has supported 130 ‘diaspora experts’ in using their skills in their home country.

Who can take advantage of the scheme? Where is the demand? How, for example, does CIM cooperate with the 27,000 or so migrant organisations that the German Government says exist in the country? And what are the challenges?

Ralf Sanftenberg, Project Manager at CIM, is available to answer these and other questions in weeks beginning 10 December and 17 December. If you are interested in a telephone interview, please contact the GIZ Press Office.