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Govt launches diaspora mapping to foster collaboration, unity among Ugandans abroad

The Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs, Ambassador Abbey Walusimbi says the mapping is set to start with North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

Kampala, (UG):- Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and other Government Agencies, together with the Diaspora Affairs Office have launched the diaspora mapping exercise, an activity aimed at identifying, documenting, and analyzing the demographics, skills, and networks of Uganda’s Diaspora communities.

The exercise, spearheaded by Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs under the Office of the President, Ambassador Abbey Walusimbi is set to start with North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

The goal of diaspora mapping according to Ambassador Walusimbi is to understand the size, distribution, and characteristics of Ugandan diaspora groups, as well as to explore how well, their potential can better contribute to the development of Uganda and themselves.

“Whereas there are over 4 million Ugandans in the diaspora and contributing extensively to Uganda, there are a lot of challenges they face that require deliberate Government attention and support. It’s against this background, that we have started on Global Diaspora mapping that will inform policy,” Ambassador Walusimbi noted.

With Support from the Office of the President, the Ambassador and his team on Sunday, June 30, departed Uganda for the USA, to start on this noble assignment kicking off in the North American states of California, Massachusetts, Texas and Illinois, among others.

“Thereafter, we will head to Canada – Toronto and Ottawa, to meet the different diaspora chapter members to explore and assess immediate and long-term needs that can inform policy,” he added on Saturday before leaving for the States.

The Ugandan diaspora community makes significant contributions to the country’s economy; in 2022, remittances from the Ugandan diaspora community reached $1.42 billion, a 13.4% increase from the previous year.

This publication understands that diaspora investments in agribusiness, education, Tourism, export promotion, commercial diplomacy and other sectors have contributed to Uganda’s economic growth and job creation tremendously.

The Ugandan government and HE President Yoweri Museveni recognized the importance of the diaspora community’s contributions and established the Office of Diaspora Affairs to engage with and support all Ugandans living abroad. The objectives of diaspora mapping will among others include;

  1. Establishing Demographics, population size, geographic distribution, age, gender, and occupation.
  2. Skills sets; education, qualifications, and professional expertise and explore the best way for knowledge transfer and innovation.
  3. Build Networks; social, cultural, and economic connections within the diaspora communities and the country of origin – Uganda.
  4.  Remittances; improve financial flows sent back to the country and ensure value for money sent by diaspora.
  5. Investment; potential for investment in businesses, real estate, or other ventures.
  6. Gathering data for Informing policy formulation and programs to engage diaspora communities.

Challenges in the Diasporas

Among the challenges faced by diaspora communities include but are not limited to; Cultural preservation in which the Ambassador says many in the diaspora communities struggle to maintain their cultural identity and language, especially when surrounded by a dominant culture. This, according to him will require enhancing diaspora associations.

Other challenges he intimated to this publication include; Integration and belonging, saying lots of Ugandans in the diaspora communities experience difficulties integrating into their new host country and feeling a sense of belonging. This causes a loss of identity and produces a generation that has no belonging, and patriotism.

Access to resources and services: Diaspora communities still face challenges accessing resources and services, such as healthcare and education, in their host country.

According to Ambassador Walusimbi, the challenges faced in the diaspora community are a lot more, homesickness, voicelessness, isolation, lack of legal documents, remittances, loss of their hard-earned income to dishonest family and relatives back home, citizenship and residency rights, language issues, career growth, quality housing, among others.

“The Government foreign missions, different diaspora leagues/associations and all task force committees will be very instrumental in supporting the shaping of this noble effort. We shall share a detailed schedule for the rollout plan in the near future. I wish to thank our President and the entire Government for their support and guidance to our diaspora communities,” he says.

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