Celebrating International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR)

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The following story might sound theatrical, but it is real. It happened to one of our customers in Ghana, and similar situations happen every day.

A child suffering from appendicitis without the means for medical assistance. In desperation, his mother begs the doctors to perform the surgery. Her eldest son, a migrant worker who has been living abroad for the past five years, sends back money when he can. However, with no insurance to cover the unforeseen illness, the money she has just isn’t enough.

Time is running out, so the woman is forced to leave her child while she runs to a telephone booth to call her son. Shortly after, the money transfer comes through and the child is saved.

This is why we celebrate International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR): because of the direct impact they have on so many with no other means of survival.

The meaning of the International Day of Family Remittances 

A family remittance is the money sent by migrant workers to support their families and loved ones back home. These remittances were also graciously described as “Dollars wrapped with love” by Dilip Ratha, lead author and founder of KNOMAD (Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development). It is estimated that family remittances directly touch the lives of one in every seven people on Earth.

The IDFR was proclaimed by all 176 International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Member States during its Governing Council in February 2015, and it was first observed on June 16, 2015 by policy-makers, civil society officers, and private sector delegates at the opening of the Fifth Global Forum on Remittances and Development in Milan.

Having an International Day of Family Remittances, or IDFR, presents an exceptional opportunity to recognize the significant financial contributions made by migrants globally to their families and communities back home. At the same time, it is the perfect occasion to call on governments and stakeholders from the private and public sector to promote financial inclusion and do more together to boost the development and the impact of remittances worldwide.

What is the importance of remittances for families? 

The impact of remittances goes beyond the instant monetary gain, as they support greater human developments. More than 200 million migrant workers send money back home to provide their families with health, nutrition, and education opportunities, among other investments that secure them the chance to stay home and address the root causes of their own migration.

To further understand the impact that family remittances have in developing economies we should pay attention to the following numbers:

According to the United Nations, in 2017, the global stock of international migrants was an estimated 258 million. With this, the World Bank estimates that the officially recorded remittances to low- and middle-income countries reached $466 billion in 2017, an increase of 8.5 percent over $429 billion in 2016. In the following year (2018), 164 million migrant workers spread across the globe were able to send home more than US$529 billion.

As a result, remittances are now more than three times the size of foreign aid and official development assistance. [1] These remittances are used to boost education, investment, and health coverage, as we discuss in our A Case for Affordable Remittances white paper.

These are staggering figures, and demonstrate how remittances are a fuel for many families living in middle- and low-income countries. They eclipse international aid, serving as a major vehicle for reducing the extent and sternness of poverty in the developing world.

In some developing nations, like Nepal, Liberia, or Haiti, some of the countries most dependent on remittances, the impact is so powerful that these remittances represent a significant percentage of the GDP. These billions in cash inflows can make up more than 27% of a nation’s GDP in some cases.

Thankfully, every year the average cost of remittances drops, the sending network expands, and the amount sent increases. This means that more families are able to receive the help they need from their loved ones overseas.

Our commitment to family remittances 

What drives our business is bringing people together: connecting migrant workers and their families. To do so, we work hard at ensuring we expand our network even to the most remote corners of the world. We advocate for fairer prices by encouraging competition and we are attentive to our customers’ needs, traditions and values. 

Family remittances are the core of Ria Money Transfer’s business, and, as part of the remittance industry, we are happy to support the observance of the International Day of Family Remittances, seizing the moment to highlight our commitment to our customers. We will continue to push for more affordable prices while ensuring their remittances will be handled and delivered with care. 

[1] KNOMAD: Migration and Remittances: http://www.knomad.org/sites/default/files/2018-04/Migration%20and%20Development%20Brief%2029.pdf 

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