Monday, October 5, 2009

UN report roots for migration

As one example of uneven human development, a Kenyan born in 2007 can expect to live 53.6 years, while a Norwegian will likely live 27 years longer, says the report. Photo/FILE

As one example of uneven human development, a Kenyan born in 2007 can expect to live 53.6 years, while a Norwegian will likely live 27 years longer, says the report. Photo/FILE 

By JOHN NGIRACHU

Despite reports that money sent to Kenya by her citizens living abroad is reducing, the United Nations says migration could be the best option for people in developing countries.

This year’s Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme says that given the chance, Africans potentially have the most to gain by seeking opportunities abroad.

The report asks both origin and destination countries in the migration process to be more open to the idea to enable those who are moving to make the most of the available opportunities.

“Africa can become a major source of labour for ageing rich countries. Opening more legal channels and reducing costs related to migration is likely to bring mutual human development benefits for source and destination countries,” says the report.

The notions that immigrants reduce opportunities for natives of the host country and other negative perceptions are usually exaggerated, it argues.

It however warns that migration’s boosting of incomes should not be construed to mean it would solve all the problems in developing countries.

“Migration can make an important contribution to development at home, but is not an alternative to efforts by developing countries to achieve growth and improve well-being,” says the report titled “Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development”

In Kenya and other developing countries, increased migration is likely to result in an increase in remittances from emigrants. According to the report launched in Nairobi yesterday, Kenyans abroad sent $1.58 billion (Sh191 billion) to their relatives in Kenya in 2007.

Quality of life

Kenya was ranked 147 out of 182 countries surveyed using the Human Development Index, which uses life expectancy, literacy and income as opposed to gross domestic product to measure the quality of life.

Speaking at the launch on Monday, Immigration assistant minister Francis Baya said a National Immigration Policy is being developed by the ministry to streamline the process.

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