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Migration, Territories and Development: In Search of a New Model for Interactions

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Jan 23, 2015 / 0 Comments

[EPISODE 6] How Can Migration Be More Forcefully Linked with Development of the Home Country? 




What are we going to discuss? International migration, diasporas, development, migrants’ territories of origin, host countries…and links that migrants forge each day involving all these elements. We will discuss these issues in 8 posts. Please feel free to comment, criticize, make suggestions, question, agree, or disagree. This is a space to make your voice heard.


The starting point must be social practices and the radical changes affecting them, both in territories of origin and in migration.  This is the topic of this post No. 6.


Next, these new social demands must be met by building Communities for Shared Development adapted to trends in the territories and to the expectations of the diasporas (post No. 7)).

This post No. 6 will therefore deal with changes in the territories and in migration.


These analyses are based on the sharing of experiences concerning "the role of migrants in the development of the territory” as perceived by the association Migrations & Développement[1]  (M&D) during almost 30 years of studies on the Atlas and Anti-Atlas region in the in the southern central part of Morocco.  This study, supervised by Odile Balizet with the support of  F3E[2], revealed extensive changes both in migration and in territories of origin.


We have already considered the changes in migration in general (post No. 2). Moroccan migration followed this pattern:  settlement of migrants in host countries, growing importance of migrants’ offspring, feminization of the new migratory flows, higher levels of education, insertion (difficult but real) in host societies… These trends are part of a general movement of growing individualization. The young people who make up the “connected diaspora”  remain attached to their home country (in the case of new migrants) or to their parents’ country and some are inclined to action, but individually and sporadically, without becoming weighed down by associations and by the social obligations of the first generation.  The new generations are still seeking to belong to a community but the concepts of community and of belonging have changed radically.  For example, this community may be virtual and temporary for the duration of an action or a project.  It is no longer strictly exclusive:  there is growing acceptance of its multiple identities!


Major changes are also occurring in territories of origin.  New actors are emerging: development associations (particularly associations of women and young people), local communities and local authorities.  Many of these actors have upgraded their skills, want to act and are eager to receive training.  They are taking responsibility for the development of their territories, for example through the Communal Development Plans (CDP) which the new Moroccan Communal Charter requires communes to establish through a participatory process.


The migration/development model in favor until the 1990s involved associations of migrants from the same village or the same region and, as far as the Moroccan territory was concerned, village associations.  There was a community-based linkage between the two consisting of social obligations and conformity with group dynamics.  The Government was distant and the communes, with their elected officials, were not very active.  The migrant was thus the leading actor providing innovations, solutions and co-financing for collective village projects.


This model has become obsolete with the emergence of new local actors, on the one hand, and of a more individualized diaspora, on the other.


Instead of being leading actors in local development, migrants are now part of a larger cast of local players taking the lead.  These migrants are then invited by the Ministry for Moroccans Residing Abroad to mobilize and “develop their home country” by abstract public policies at the national level, whereas the older generation did this on its own initiative with no encouragement from the Government.   In addition, migrants’ children born in France, who might have been expected to take over from their parents in supporting the development of the territory of origin, do not have the same motivation or interest in becoming involved.


The previous “model” will therefore need to be radically rethought.  This will be the subject of post No. 7.


Before considering this new model, however, we should consider what the current changes mean for the territories.  The emergence of new actors tends to reverse the relationship between migration and development.  By considering the diaspora as a resource of the territory – and no longer as a loss – and by involving its members in their Communal Development Plans, the most active local officials take charge of local development processes.  The relationship between migration and development is reversed: now it is the territory’s development needs which result in migration, whereas when M&D was established it was migration which drove development.


This radical change reflects an entirely new attitude of some local actors towards development.  It clearly places the territory between migration and development and puts migration in a new place: supporting existing trends in the territories of the home country.


[1] Association Migrations & Développement :

[2] F3E : Evaluate, Exchange, Elucidate :

This blog series consists of 8 episodes:

  1. 1. Migration: a multifaceted phenomenon
  2. 2. A gradual change in migration and how it is perceived
  3. 3. Migration: a problem or a reflection of societies? 
  4. 4. How Are Development and Migration Linked? 
  5. 5. Migrants as a catalyst for development in a country 
  6. 6. How Can Migration Be More Forcefully Linked with Development of the Home Country? 
  7. 7. Communities for Shared Development as a response to the new features of the territory and the Diasporas
  8. 8. Extending the Concept of Communities for Shared Development to the Rest of the World 



Jacques OULD AOUDIA is a Development Economics Researcher.

Professional experience: Until 2011: Economist at the Treasury Directorate (Ministry of Economy, France): analysis of the institutional foundations of development economics, in particular in the Arab world. Research associate at the Royal Institute of Strategic Studies (IRES, Morocco).

Volunteer work: President of the “Migration and Development” association established by Moroccan migrants in 1986. Website of the association:

Author of several publications: including: Captation ou création de richesse? Une convergence inattendue entre Nord et Sud, Gallimard, Le Débat n°178, January-February, 2014 ; Des migrants marocains acteurs du développement, (with Yves Bourron), Hommes & Migrations No.1303, July-September, 2013.

Author website:   


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