Diaspora groups – migrants, refugees and their descendants – are important development actors in many countries. Global remittance flows are today three times greater than the global official development assistance. Moreover, diaspora groups are actively involved in development projects and humanitarian relief. The Somali-Swedish diaspora engagement in Somalia plays a significant role in crises and contribute to long-term processes of change. Somalia is a partner country to the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and receives significant amounts of aid. 

The report builds on interviews with actors from the Somali diaspora in Sweden as well as developmental workers from Sida and Forum Syd. The point of departure in the study is interviews with actors from the Somali diaspora in Sweden as well as developmental workers from Sida and Forum Syd. The focus in the interviews is on the different views and methods that the groups have for their developmental projects. The diaspora engagement is examined through a heuristic perspective and sheds light on global networks and contradictory narratives on identity and kinship.

Some overall conclusions and recommendations

  • The report shows that the Somali diasporas engagement is characterised by diversity and flexibility, which is mirrored in the civic participation both in the Swedish and Somali region, often simultaneously.
  • There are potential overlaps between diaspora actors, developmental workers, and returning population groups in the Somali region, making the “diaspora” into a heterogenous and hard identified group. Developmental actors might be anything from households, individual initiatives, mosques, global networks, companies and countless of Swedish-Somali associations.
  • The study identifies the Somali associations in Sweden as possible enablers for the diaspora’s general engagement. This is mirrored in the high number of registered associations and their fulfilment of the co-funding criterias’ from Forum Syd.
  • In line with Forum Syd’s prioritised areas of development, the cofounding activities are often focused on gender and equality, human rights, and sustainable development. Many of the activities that are not co-financed are focused on areas such as health, education and drought relief. This indicates that the cofounding through Forum Syd is crucial to enable for a broader development.  

About the author

The report, Somali Diaspora Groups in Sweden: Engagement in Development and Relief Work in the Horn of Africa (2018:1), is written by Nauja Kleist, senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies.

Picture by stokpic from Pixabay.