ROME, Italy, CMC – A United Nations agency that works to improve the lives of the world’s rural poor says that money sent by Caribbean and other migrants to their home countries could generate US$30 billion annually for investment in rural areas if initiatives were scaled up.
Remittances “can empower rural people to blaze a trail out of poverty and exclusion,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
“The value of remittances is staggering, but the rural poor need greater impact. We need more strategic ways to invest the US$200 billion sent home to the rural areas every year,” he added.
The UN said more than 215 million people across the globe live outside of the countries they call home.
It said most remittance families operate outside of the world’s financial system, dependent on costly cash transfers that often require significant travel for rural recipients.
Despite the global prevalence of electronic money transfers, the UN said most migrant workers are excluded from convenient, modern banking and are forced to initiate more than one billion separate remittance transactions worldwide each year.
Nwanze said reducing transaction costs is a key priority, as well as affirming the significant role that the Diaspora play in rural development, particularly agriculture.
Organized jointly by IFAD and the World Bank, Friday’s event attracted more than 350 participants including representatives from the Group of Eight (G8) largest world economies, as well as central bankers and microfinance institutions, money transfer operators and postal networks.
The UN said it was the first since the Fourth Global Forum on Remittances 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand, last month.