Sunday, 2 December 2007

Keeping families afloat

Bank+queues+in+ZimbabwePhoto: Queueing for the bank. IRIN

I wrote in an earlier post, Savings for Migrant Workers, about the importance to developing countries of migrant workers sending back funds to their families. In that case it was about France setting up special savings accounts, and websites to enable people to compare exchange rates.

About 3 million people have left Zimbabwe (roughly a quarter of the population) and many have come to Britain, finding it relatively easy to come by work in the IT, medical and teaching sectors. The semi-skilled migrants have tended to move to countries closer to home.

Many if not most, send back money to their families. A study conducted in 2006 found that over half the households in Harare and Bulawayo received help from outside the country. The help is not necessarily only money. There are various methods of sending fuel or groceries, even medical insurance. is one such remittance company. Someone in this country can choose to buy or top-up a mobile; pay for TV channels; groceries such as rice, oil, salt, candles; settle an invoice for an internet connection.

More detail on IRIN

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