By Lincoln DePradine
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — Senior officials in the Grenada ministry of foreign affairs have requested nationals in the diaspora – dubbed the country’s “16th constituency’’ – to participate in an ongoing initiative that will conclude with the parliamentary approval of a “Grenada Diaspora Engagement Policy”.
Components of the initiative include “skills gap analysis’’ and the completion 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,’’ said Peter David, Grenada’s minister for foreign affairs, 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 Organization 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 ministry of foreign affairs, Alva Browne, underscoring the importance of the Mapping Project, said, “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 meeting with David is a scheduled keynote address on Saturday, November 16, 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 organizations 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.
Besides the mapping component, a consultant will 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 match 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 of 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 permanent secretary Browne. “It is our firm view, though, that if we engage in an organized 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’’. 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 emphasized 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 referenced this opportunity 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, downloadable on www.grenadiandiaspora.gd. Please take the opportunity to review,’’ she said.