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  • Mainstreaming Migration Into National Development Strategies Country Overview

Country Overview


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Migration is considered to be one of the most influential factors affecting the financial and economic development of the Bangladesh economy. Millions of Bangladeshi citizens have migrated to around 150 countries for employment in skilled or unskilled jobs. It is estimated that from 1976 onwards, more than nine million people have crossed the Bangladeshi borders for overseas employment. Over the last five years, the annual average number of migrant workers leaving Bangladesh for short-term foreign employment is estimated to be around 480,000.

The top destination for most of the migrant workers is the Middle East, which accounts for about three-quarters of the total migration from Bangladesh. The second-largest destination is South-East Asia, accounting for about 22 percent of the total Bangladeshi migrant workers. In the last couple of years, female participation in international migration has increased rapidly, and made up 18 percent of total Bangladeshi migrants in 2014.

In 2014, Bangladesh was the 10th-largest remittance-receiving country in the world. The total amount of remittances received by Bangladesh in 2014 was equivalent to 8.6 percent of the GDP of the country. Remittances play a significant role in financing the country's imports and help its currency to remain steady, contributing immensely to the overall macroeconomic stability. As to financial impacts of international migration, remittances are used to finance consumption of both durable and non-durable goods of people who have remained in migrant households.

The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) has identified migration to be a leading factor for the development of the country. Recently, the government endorsed the Overseas Employment and Migrants’ Act 2013 and the Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Policy 2016 to ensure that the rights of migrants are safeguarded, and that the benefits of migration permeate to all sectors of society.

The inclusion of migration in the development agenda continues to intensify at a global level, and Bangladesh’s Seventh Five Year Plan (SFYP) reflects this on a national level. The GoB approved its Seventh Five Year Plan for years 2016 to 2020, which acknowledges the development priorities of the country.

The SFYP mentions remittance as a main factor in poverty reduction and recognizes the multiplier effects that lead to rural transformation, diversified employment and the creation of an income base for the rural poor. The SFYP especially urges a strengthening of strategies for overseas employment and remittance through institutional reforms for the Bangladeshi diaspora.

Along with international migration, it is also vital for a growing economy like Bangladesh to maintain focus on internal displacement. Internal displacement threatens to worsen the rampant growth of urbanization of major metropolitan cities of Bangladesh, mainly in the capital, Dhaka, now one of the most densely populated cities in the world. If the internal displacement issue is not adequately addressed, living conditions of metropolitan areas could deteriorate rapidly, with a chance of increasing gaps of equality and equity occurring. However, planned and organized internal migration could have the opposite, and most likely, a very positive impact, leading to overall economic and socio-economic growth of the nation.

Programme Implementation Status in Bangladesh:

During the pilot phase of the project in 2013, the GoB prioritized four thematic areas linked to migration. These are (a) migration and poverty reduction; (b) migration and social protection and rights; (c) migration, environment, climate change and disaster management; and (d) migration and human resource planning.

In April 2014, the second phase was launched in close coordination with the leading ministries: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment (MoEWOE). The objective was to bring key national stakeholders together to initiate the process of forming the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration and Development (ICMD) and Technical Working Groups (TWGs) on the four priority areas set out by the GoB. The launch established the foundation for the inter-agency coordination mechanism for mainstreaming migration into national development planning.

The ICMD brings together all relevant ministries and potentially other related stakeholders to develop a comprehensive national migration and development strategy. The TWGs bring together the relevant line ministries/divisions and non-governmental experts to support the development of policy objectives, programming options and recommendations on how migration could be further reflected within all the relevant actors and work of the ministries, divisions and departments.

National Development Plans

National Focal Points