Between 5 and 8 September 2023, we held the final activity of our collaboration with Saint Lucia Diaspora Affairs Office on diaspora skills mapping, a celebratory moment for Saint Lucia and for EUDiF, as the second piloting of our step-by-step methodology to diaspora skills mapping, launched through our DP4D action with Madagascar.
Dédé data gap!
The starting point for successful diaspora engagement is data. Data are indispensable to inform policy formulation and for national authorities to design suitable opportunities for engagement. This means that improving data is key to better engaging the diaspora.
Data on the Saint Lucian diaspora is scarce, which is what inspired our collaboration with the Diaspora Affairs Office (DAO) of the Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade, Civil Aviation and Diaspora Affairs of Saint Lucia and the High Commission for Saint Lucia in London. The Diaspora Affairs Office and High Commission are both keen to work more with and for the diaspora and see great mutual benefit in leveraging diaspora skills for Saint Lucia’s development.
Since April 2023, EUDiF has worked with the DAO, the High Commission and a Saint Lucian diaspora champion, Mandy Preville-Findlay to fill this particular gap.
Together, we have gathered data on the socio-demographic characteristics of the Saint Lucian diaspora in the UK and their interests in engaging with their country of origin – the first mapping of its kind. The results will permit Saint Lucia to design and plan its diaspora engagement in the UK in a more targeted manner.
Last month, we wrapped up the EUDiF chapter of this journey to finally say “dédé!” (goodbye) to the data gap!
EUDiF’s Fanny Tittel-Mosser and Mandy Preville-Findlay conducted a final training for national authorities and civil society organisations to familiarise them with all steps of the skills mapping methodology. They also presented the methodology and results of the skills mapping in a public event in Saint Lucia attended by ministries, civil society and Export Saint Lucia, the National Trade Export and Promotion Agency for the Saint Lucian Government.
The results of the survey have triggered a lot of discussions in Saint Lucia and the DAO is working on how to make use of the results in the medium to long-term, whilst it also launches complementary surveys in other regions. A major take-away from the first analysis is that the diaspora in the UK keeps strong ties with Saint Lucia but diaspora engagement remains sporadic. However, respondents showed strong willingness to contribute in the future, should information on available opportunities be made easier to access.
The full results will be presented to the UK diaspora in an online event in December. For more information on the steps taken in this action, read more here.
Insights from EUDiF
Too often, the support provided to governments to gather data on diaspora is shortsighted and involves costly IT tools that are difficult to access once donors withdraw. This was why in 2022 we created a step-by-step diaspora skills profiling methodology that is low-cost, easy to adapt and quick to implement.
With two skills mapping actions now under her belt, Fanny shares her thoughts on what made the Saint Lucia collaboration a success…
Interest in replication from the very beginning: Saint Lucia was interested in our methodology because it is based on free and user-friendly tools, ones which national authorities can use autonomously after being trained to do so and accompanied in a pilot skills mapping.
After mapping the UK-based diaspora, Saint Lucia intends to replicate the exercise in key states in the USA, so staff from the Consulate General of Saint Lucia – New York and the Saint Lucian embassy in Washington DC joined the final training and dissemination event in Saint Lucia.
Knowing there is interest in replication from the start helped to design the activities appropriately, and means workshop participants will soon have the chance to put their skills to the test.
“I am planning to share the knowledge gathered through this skills mapping exercise with other relevant colleagues to support the replication of the exercise. I am also very involved in my own community, and this will help me to collect data on other topics of relevance”. Julian DuBois, Ambassador for Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade, Civil Aviation and Diaspora Affairs
“I am planning to share the knowledge gathered through this skills mapping exercise with other relevant colleagues to support the replication of the exercise. I am also very involved in my own community, and this will help me to collect data on other topics of relevance”.
Ambassador DuBois, Ambassador for Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade, Civil Aviation and Diaspora Affairs
Involving the diaspora from the start: In our methodology, we believe that the diaspora should be closely involved in data collection exercises for several reasons. First, diaspora involvement increases the credibility of the study by explaining to potential participants the purpose and benefits of participating on a peer-to-peer level. By acting as a person of trust, they can mitigate political sensitivities and encourage participation from segments of the diaspora that might be antagonist towards the government by presenting the data collection as a co-owned exercise benefiting all. Finally, involving the diaspora from day one can help accelerate from data collection to action – those involved form the start will expect the data to be used for further engagement and be vocal about it. Of course, this means the government needs to follow through, or risk losing trust and engagement.
Inviting diaspora to join the first training at the High Commission was a great way to demonstrate transparency, create shared ownership and test-run the survey questions and communication materials. All this helped the survey roll-out run more smoothly and created momentum.
Multi-channel communication in Saint Lucia and the UK: Our diaspora professional Mandy Preville-Findlay played a key role in reaching out to the diaspora in the UK via social media and in-person meetings. She was supported by a few other motivated diaspora champions that had participated in the first training organised in London. Additionally, Ambassador DuBois, Ambassador for Diaspora Affairs, played a central role in outreach in Saint Lucia and gave institutional formality and clout to the initiative. His social media posts and radio interventions in Saint Lucia helped spread the news of the survey in Saint Lucia, which was then passed on through informal channels to the diaspora.
More tips and tricks for conducting diaspora skills mappings will be published in our “learning by doing” series soon. Stay tuned.