The Geneva Challenge 2015: Finalists

Assisting the Reintegration of Philippine Return Migrants through Mobile Technology


The Team


FCruz.jpg Frances Cruz is pursuing her second Master’s degree in International Studies at the University of the Philippines. Born and raised in the United Arab Emirates before settling in Manila at the age of thirteen, the topic of return migration and development is of personal importance to her.
JTan.jpg Janina Tan is a graduate student in the University of the Philippines’ Asian Center majoring in Northeast Asian Studies and specializing in China Studies. Her research interests include Confucianism and Chinese migrants in the Philippines. 
YYonaha.jpg Yvan Yonaha is a development practitioner and technology enthusiast. He is in graduate school for Philippine Development Studies and works as a Consultant of the National Anti-Poverty Commission and an instructor for the Department of Social Sciences at UP Los Baños.


The Project


Integrated Return Migrant Mobile Assistant uses mobile technology to consolidate information and the needs of return. The Philippine government offers a number of programs to facilitate the return of former overseas workers, although these are often disparate and uncoordinated, exacerbated by the lack of concrete information about return migrant population. 

Our project addresses the gaps in information and services by providing integrated platforms through built-in USSD (unstructured supplementary service data) codes for cellphones and applications containing phone services and updates on pertinent information concerning return migrants. These technologies provide links between various entrepreneurial, employment and educational opportunities, which return migrants can use to improve their skills and/or capital.

Return migrants will be interested in downloading or accessing the application or USSD codes. These are user-friendly, building upon skills that are already widespread in the Philippine context, and can be updated regularly to maintain lines of communication between return migrants and the government. Apart from offering access to government/NGO/private training and employment services, it is envisioned that the application can appear in several languages and be linked to free call services that offer psychological help to return migrants or OFWs (overseas Filipino workers).

Among the benefits of the application are its accessibility to disparate groups of migrants, who may live all over the archipelago, and its data collection potential for government and researchers.

The Ethics of Remitting: Building a Normative Framework for the Inclusion of Remittances in Policy Discussions on Migration and Development

The Team


ICunha.jpg Isabela Cunha holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University focusing on human rights and international organizations. Her work focuses on the interlinkages between human rights and sustainable development.
DBraha.jpg David Braha recently graduated from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where he obtained a Master of  International Affairs in International Security Policy.
JDalton.jpg Jessica Dalton is studying for an MA in Human Rights Studies at Columbia University. Her master’s thesis analyses labor provisions in trade agreements as a development tool for labor rights enforcement and accountability.  
OAbilova.jpg Olga Abilova holds a Master of International Affairs in Economic and Political Development from Columbia University, specializing in International Conflict Resolution. 


The Project


International labor migrants make up 3% of the world’s population, sending more than $400 billion annually in remittances to their countries of origin. Remittances are steadier and more reliable than both official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investments (FDI). Compared to other types of development assistance, remittances do not cost taxpayers anything. Yet, remitting is very expensive for migrants; in addition to paying tax on their income like anyone else, labor migrants are subject to high fees on the sending of their remittances.

Due to their potential as a tool for driving development, we argue for the inclusion of remittances in the ethical discussion on migration. Overall, the aim of our proposal is (1) creating a more favorable tax-regime for remittances in the country where the income is earned and (2) the implementation of measures that will ease and reduce the cost of transferring remittances.

Through an assessment of the normative value of the current taxation system for migrants’ remittances, we propose amending The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW). We also address challenges of implementation and possible solutions.

The current legal infrastructure fails to align practice with the ethical debate. Our proposal would address this misalignment by strengthening international law to clarify and provide guidelines that protect the rights of migrant workers to remit, as well as strengthening the role of remittances in the global framework for development. 



Vital Networks: Extending the Agency of Return Migrant Health Workers


The Team


BEdgoose.jpg Bethany Edgoose is completing a Masters in Anthropology and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is passionate about the problem-solving potentials of digital technologies.
DJonas.jpg Dave Jonas is studying a Masters in Anthropology and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. 
NSu.jpg Nathan Su is a designer and student of architecture, studying at the Architectural Association in London. He uses digital drawing, film, and code to speculate on future technologies and their spatial applications. 
MVelander.jpg Marielle Velander is completing a Masters in Anthropology and Development at the LSE. A graduate of George Washington University, she grew up in Sweden and Malta.


The Project


Migrant health workers will keep channeling valuable knowledge into OECD countries and capital into their home communities. But is there an alternative - a way for migrant health workers to also service their own communities without stopping flows of money? We aimed to design a scheme that worked within the realities of international health worker migration, while taking advantage of emerging opportunities presented by new technologies.

Vital is a global network of telemedicine that transforms return migrant health workers into conduits of health knowledge and money. It is a social enterprise, a software package, and a management system. The software package is composed of two applications - one for patients and one for providers. It includes a secure communications interface, a live appointment calendar, and encrypted email, for transferring referrals, prescriptions and test-results.

Vital allows migrant health workers to return home, yet still work within the health system of their host country. In effect, return health workers can be in two places at once - serving their own communities and still supporting their families. In this way, Vital works within the realities of migration. It is an innovation - for entrepreneurship, development, and global health. The Vital scheme is designed to be customizable. Our proposal includes a case-study of how Vital would work in the specific context of international health worker migration between Nigeria and the United States (US).