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Jamaica's migration profile to guide development of national policy

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Observer senior reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, September 06, 2012    

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THE completion of a Migration Profile for Jamaica is being hailed as a significant first for the country and the Caribbean.

According to the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the Migration Profile "is the first step towards the development of a National Policy and Plan of Action on International Migration and Development to enhance the Government's knowledge about migration and its relationship with development while using migration information for policy development".

The first series of national and sectoral consultations for that Policy and Plan of Action is slated to begin later this month in the parishes of Kingston, Mandeville, St Ann and Montego Bay.

Speaking at the launching ceremony for the Profile at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday, Director of the Social Policy, Planning and Research Division at the PIOJ Easton Williams said the Jamaican Government embraced the initiative by the European Commission, the International and Ibero American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to develop the Extended Migration Profile, as this was consistent with the national priority of Vision 2030 to ensure that "international migration is adequately measured, monitored and influenced to serve the development needs of Jamaica".

"Today, we are celebrating the realisation of an initiative to enhance the data collection capacity of the Government through this Extended Migration Profile, which, we anticipate, will be used as a tool for informing policy and planning. Ours is among 70 other migration profiles that have been prepared globally under the guidance of the IOM," Williams noted.

The extended migration profile not only emphasises the size, volume and characteristics of migration flows but also highlights the links and interrelationships with development. The profile includes components relevant to the labour market, such as human capital, remittances, family well-being, diaspora and human rights.

Williams said the need for the development of country-specific migration profiles has been highlighted since 2005 at various high-level international and regional fora and workshops, including the Global Forum For Migration and Development.

He said the importance of developing the profile was also reinforced by the fact that the profile would be an integral part of the national effort and commitment to develop a comprehensive policy on migration and development.

"...Cognisant of the weaknesses in migration data nationally, we wanted to improve the quality of migration data to inform policy development and planning," Williams said while pointing out that "data in this field have been plagued by inconsistencies in definitions, standards and adequacy of measurement systems and instruments".

He said this was so due to the diverse and complex nature of migration -- evident in the number of government ministries, departments and agencies that have responsibility for the various aspects of migration -- with the efforts "for the most part" being "uncoordinated and fragmented".

"To address this weakness, Vision 2030 Jamaica -- National Development Plan has recognised that all elements of migration warrant a coherent, comprehensive and balanced approach in policymaking," Williams said.

The work to develop the country's first Extended Migration Profile began in September last year with the contracting of a consultant team. The IOM and the EU provided technical and financial support to undertake the exercise. The Government also received support from other international development partners such as the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Population Fund.

Migration profiles were first proposed by the EU in 2005 as a concise statistical report prepared based on a common framework which could make it easier to understand, "at a glance", the migration situation in a particular country.

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