NewsAfricaSending remittances resists all crises: "I couldn't eat here thinking that my mother is hungry in Senegal"

Sending remittances resists all crises: “I couldn’t eat here thinking that my mother is hungry in Senegal”

Serigne Fall (Dakar, Senegal, 54 years old) left his country in 2007, leaving behind an entire family that placed in him the hope of a more prosperous future for all. “If you emigrate from Africa it is to improve your situation, but also to support the needs of your wife, your children, your parents, your brothers, your nephews, your grandparents, your uncles”, he explains. “Of what I earn per month here in Spain, I send 400 euros to my extended family in Senegal. Like my wife, who sends between 200 and 250 euros to her mother, ”he continues. Like them, in 2022 there were 200 million migrant workers who sent money to their more than 800 million relatives in their countries of origin, according to estimates by the UN.

Read Also:   New tragedy in the Mediterranean: at least 22 migrants die, three of them minors

Despite the covid-19 crisis and political instability, remittance flows have continued to grow and in the last 20 years have multiplied by five, according to the World Bank. This organization affirms that in 2022, low- and middle-income countries received 626,000 million US dollars (585,000 million euros, approximately) in money transfers. “In the last 20 years, we have had several crises (a security one after 9/11, an economic one in 2007, a migration one in 2015, a health one in 2020, and the one now, derived from the war in Ukraine), and always The same story repeats itself: remittances are the flow that remains most balanced. That is what seems most impressive to me, most humane,” says Pedro De Vasconcelos, director of the Financing Fund for Remittances of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in conversation with this newspaper.

Around 75% of remittances are used to put a plate on the table and cover health, education or housing expenses

After five years in an irregular situation in Europe, first in Paris and then in Madrid, Fall obtained the Spanish residence card in 2012, and family reunification in 2016. Now, he lives in the Madrid district of Hortaleza with his wife, Diarra Ndiaye, and two of their four children, Sally and Isseu, ages 24 and 14. “My wife and I work for our girls, who live with us, but also for our other two children and relatives in Senegal. It is normal in our culture. Although it is a huge pressure, with which you carry your whole life, we accept it almost as a moral obligation”, he admits, and admits: “I understand that here, with the very individualistic conception of society that we have, this is not understood” .

Read Also:   Sudanese residing in the United States demonstrate in front of the UN headquarters against Abdelfata al-Burhan
The Sant Pau telephone booth, in Barcelona, ​​where money transfers, transfers, international telephone calls, mobile recharging and Internet access services are provided, generally to foreigners residing in Spain.

aitor saez

A lifeline for millions of families

In more than 70 countries, such as Senegal, remittances are equivalent to at least 4% of their GDP. “About 75% of these are used to put a plate on the table and cover health, education or housing expenses. In times of crisis, migrant workers can send more money back home to pay for crop failure or family emergencies. The rest, around 25%, can be saved or invested in the construction of assets or in activities that generate income and jobs and transform economies, especially in rural areas”, De Vasconcelos explains.

Although it is a giant pressure, with which you carry your whole life, we are prepared for it. We accept it, almost as a moral obligation

Serigne Fall, Senegalese migrant residing in Madrid

“Migrant workers send home, on average, between $200 and $300 every one to two months. That amount, which represents only 15% of their income, can represent up to 60% of the total income of their original households, which is why it constitutes a lifeline for millions of families”, he clarifies. “Remittances are a vital source of household income for low- and middle-income countries, alleviating poverty, improving nutritional outcomes, and being associated with higher birth weights and higher school enrollment rates for children in disadvantaged households. In addition, they help receiving households to build resilience, by financing better housing and coping with post-disaster losses”, confirms Dilip Ratha, director of the Global Knowledge Association on Migration and Development (Knomad, for its acronym in English) and economist of migration and remittances of the World Bank, in conversation with this newspaper.

Ina Bah, a 42-year-old Malian, also sends money home on a monthly basis. “I work long hours to be able to send, on average, 300 or 400 euros a month. To pay for my son’s school, breakfast, lunch and dinner, transportation ”, she explains. She arrived in Madrid two years ago, fleeing from extremist Islamist groups present in Mali. She left Bamako, the capital, by car, crossed Mauritania on foot and arrived in Morocco by bus. From Tangier, she took a ferry to Algeciras, since she already had a visa. In her home country, she ran a company, and here she has two jobs, one as a cleaning assistant and the other as a kitchen assistant. “But I am calm, thank God I have income and I am not threatened with death. The only thing I need is for him to be here with me, ”she laments, referring to her son.

Change the shape, but not the background

Neither Fall nor Bah consider, “in any case”, stop sending money, but they would like it to be cheaper to do so. The average cost of sending $200 across international borders to low- and middle-income countries remains high at 6%, according to World Bank figures, even though Sustainable Development Goal 10 aims to reduce it to less than 3% for 2030. Every month, to send 400 euros, Fall has to pay eight. Eight euros with which, in Senegal, he assures, “a thousand things” could be done. “The alternative to agencies like Ria Money Transfer, MoneyGram or Western Union, which are the ones I use, would be remittances through the mobile channel, but I don’t trust them,” Fall acknowledges.

Remittances help recipient households build resilience, for example by financing better housing and coping with post-disaster losses

Dilip Ratha, Director of Knomad and Senior Economist for Migration and Remittances at the World Bank

“Now I’m fine, calm, but at first it was horrible. My daughter’s father’s sister had lent me $13,000 so she could come to Spain, but in exchange for her seizing my mother’s house in Nicaragua. Also, I had to leave my daughter Genesis there for a while, with her grandmother. Luckily, I found a job as an intern, and I could send my entire salary every month, to pay off the debt, ”she says. Today, once liquidated, what she sends is used so that her mother can eat or buy medicine. In addition, she is no longer the only one who sends money to Nicaragua because her sister and her aunt followed her example, they also migrated to the Basque Country and from there help her relatives in the Central American country. “In the end, it’s about family. And the family does not understand crises.

“There are migrants who end up neglecting their most basic needs, such as food or medication, in order to send money to their loved ones, because they feel that they must sacrifice themselves for those they have left behind and for those who come,” says Guillermo Fouce, president from the Psychology Without Borders Foundation. He tries to ensure that the people he cares for find “a balance, a midpoint, that allows them to have a dignified life and at the same time send money.”

You can follow PLANETA FUTURO on Twitter, Facebook and instagramand here to our newsletter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Posts

Read More