Under the auspices of the ECOWAS-Spain Fund for Migration and Development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in collaboration with the Centre for Migration Studies of the University of Ghana, organized a series of consultative meetings across the country with relevant stakeholders to solicit inputs as part of the process of developing a National Diaspora Engagement Policy(NDEP).
To facilitate the nationwide coverage of these outreach programmes, the ten regions of Ghana were divided into three zones; northern, middle and southern. The first leg of the consensus-building process which was held in Sunyani from 3rd to 5th June, 2016 covered the middle zone comprising the Ashanti, Bono-Ahafo and Western regions. The second leg which took place from 10th to 11th June, 2016 took the team to Tamale; being the convergence point for the northern zone comprising the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions. On 14th June, 2016, the third leg of the NDEP outreach programme was held in Accra to cover the southern zone of Greater Accra, Central, Volta and Eastern regions.
The three-in-one outreach programmes comprised consultative meetings with regional stakeholders on the development of the National Diaspora Engagement Policy capacity-building events for some returned migrants and Information campaigns in the migration-prone neighbourhoods of Yamfo and the Savelugu Central Market in the Savelugu-Nantong Municipality on the outskirts of Sunyani and Tamale respectively.
Participants at the consultative meetings included representatives of Government agencies such as the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority(GRA), the Ghana Immigration Service(GIS), the Youth Employment Agency(YEA), the Ghana Statistical Service(GSS), the Regional Coordinating Council(RCC), Non-Governmental Organizations, returned migrants associations and traditional rulers.
Following the presentation of an overview of the NDEP by the consultants, participants had the opportunity to pose questions as well as proffer their inputs into the policy being developed. Participants also discussed, in groups, and presented their findings on four different thematic areas of the draft policy in plenary sessions.
During the capacity-building sessions for returned migrants, the consultants presented an overview of the NDEP after which the participants proffered inputs in the form of questions and suggestions. They further recounted stories of their deadly voyages and how these could inform the drafting of policies in favour of the welfare of Ghanaian migrants. Additionally, there were discussions on how the returned migrants could engage in viable economic activities.
The Information campaigns involved well-attended screening of documentaries on deadly voyages by irregular migrants followed by discussions, in the local languages, between the participants and resource persons.