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From Irregular Migration to Incubation: the Synergy between Refugee Integration and Rural Revitalization in Europe.

Every refugee can be seen as a to be incubated start-up company which needs to connect to the culture & labor market of their host country.

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
25 12

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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Refival’s first proposition is to offer paths for organized migration in which migrants and refugees do not have to risk their lives and use the services of criminals to enter Europe. Refival’s second step is to match those who arrive or want to arrive with the most cost effective locations for their adaptation. For recognized refugees this will dominantly be inside of Europe in low living cost rural areas; for economically motivated migrants, coming from safe and stable countries, preparation for migration will mostly take place in their country of origin. What is fundamentally different in Refival’s “incubation” approach is that the relocation of migrants is mostly not directly or immediately to their “chosen” destination. Refival introduces a transition stage to improve or speed-up people’s integration. This does not imply that people are hindered in achieving their goals. Incubation facilitates the best possible match via maximized investment in their personal development. Practically, Refival’s incubator type mentorship offers individualized, primarily Internet assisted, education and work-experience. Its implementation is not home-based but uses a co-working or school environment. Many skills (including language and cultural skills) can meanwhile be remotely taught and acquired in this way. Refival believes that its approach can reduce long-term welfare dependency of refugees and can simultaneously contribute to a revitalization of Europe's rural areas.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Refival targets to help refugee/migrant families with interrupted/insufficient education who currently reside outside of Europe in countries which lack economic perspective. They often face difficulties to directly connect to Europe's labor market. Upon arrival it currently takes an average of 5 years of full welfare dependency until this group is able to connect to the labor market of their European host country. Rural incubation would shorten this time and improve the group's upward mobility.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Inclusion Sourcing (www.openideo2017.refival.org) is used to exploit the synergy between revitalizing rural Europe and refugee integration. Rooted in solidarity, Refival aims to strengthen the refugees’ bond to their host society and enhance social mobility. This kind of improvement is achieved by offering displaced people the choice to settle in low-cost countryside areas instead of expensive cities whilst using the integration cost difference to invest in the rural community's wellbeing.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Rural incubation represents a narrative of trust. It is based on participation in and contribution to small, personal-interaction driven communities. The example of Riace, although recently attacked by the new Italian government (www.n1018.refival.org), proves that this can be harmonious and feasible. Unlike separated urban parallel societies, rural populations focus more on personal integrity than on individualism, they expect empathy and solidarity instead of exclusion, and finally they in general prefer reciprocal acceptance and compassion over dominance. After four years of developing fear, it is high time for Europe to rebuild trust and take its responsibility. Only this way can it reverse fragmentation and become united again. There is a great opportunity for Europe’s rural “grassroots” communities in exploring refugee incubation and creating a more sustainable future for the refugees and for themselves.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Europe is aging rapidly and in numerous places (especially rural ones) attracting additional (preferably young) people is becoming vital for their existence. Furthermore, widely available Internet technology does meanwhile allow the relocation of education and employment to almost anywhere. This means that bridging the refugees’ skills-gap to the requirements of the European labor markets and their adaptation to European cultural values can potentially be done in any environment where extra people are welcome. By giving refugee families the choice to relocate from refugee camps (or countries without any economical future perspective) to low-living-cost “incubator villages” and by maximizing the investment in their education and work experience, great synergy can be achieved. The local rural economy can be diversified and made sustainable again by adding Internet based remote jobs to the economical portfolio of European villages. Refugees can be a synergistic catalyst here.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

30 years ago I made a World trip. Meeting people from different cultural backgrounds and encountering – without exception – respect, warm hospitality and friendliness, brought me a deep sense of gratitude. When the “refugee crisis” started, I found myself helplessly watching many European government structures failing to show the level of respect I had witnessed. Since 2015, I therefore devote myself full-time to generating comprehensive business strategies for refugee integration.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Cities are efficient; they are hubs of human interaction and optimized specialization. Nevertheless are there many tasks which can be fulfilled remotely via Internet without any physical interaction with others. This can potentially address a severe drawback of urban areas, namely that they easily become overcrowded; resulting in high living cost and low fertility. Further, in cities interaction is more anonymous; their population density causes people to be selective and often hinders cultural integration. It frequently results in immigrants ending-up living in parallel societies. Smaller communities may seem more restricted in their interaction potential, but at the same time they tend to generate an intense exposure to inhabitants’ social habits. In a rural setting, rebuilding refugees’ lives from scratch faces a much lower economical threshold, thus it might be better to invest in people rather than to allocate a large budget for their survival needs at expensive urban areas.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

By addressing the immediate urgency of halting European rural decline and initiating countryside revitalization, Refival prepares currently deprived areas and disadvantaged groups of people for future involvement in renewed sustainable economical development. This relieves the pressure which causes forced local migration to cities – presently often resulting in severe urban overcrowding and low fertility – and preserves or widens the range of human life-style alternatives. By relocating sustainable Internet based employment, both the ageing as well as the outward migration can be stopped. Due to a lack of younger people in rural areas (their outward local migration has been a process of 40-50 years) this can only be accomplished by inward migration of volunteers who possibly may have been displaced elsewhere and are willing to (re)build a sustainable rural future for themselves.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

Over the past four years, Refival has been promoting its cause via frequent newsletters (www.docs.refival.org) addressing policy makers, politicians, and potential private sector partners. Due to the changing political sentiment in Europe it has not been possible to convert the encountered interest into action yet. To make Incubator Village projects happen, Refival needs to create a connection among governments, private sector employers, deprived villages and refugees/migrants and find a solution to thoughtfully allocate – mostly already existing – funding for this purpose. If you are interested in collaboration, I encourage you to contact me and discuss further options to adopt or implement Refival's conceptual frameworks.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Systems design: Solutions that target changing larger system

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

Group or Organization Name

Refival

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Refival is my personal initiative to which I dedicated my time since September 2015. Watching the stream of refugees to Europe arriving and based on more than 30 years of experience in concept and strategy development, I decided to develop a business and product development approach to refugee integration. Refival is currently seeking for a larger, established, organization willing to adopt and staff its project. This way available EU and government funding can be obtained for the startup stage. Further, it seeks private and public sector partners to undertake pilot projects. Together with such partners it expects to be able to demonstrate practical, case based, models for "the sustainable village of the future" and for "efficient refugee integration".

Website URL:

www.docs.refival.org

Type of submitter

  • We are not yet a registered organization but looking for collaborative partners

Organization Headquarters: Country

Hungary

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Budapest

25 comments

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Comment
Photo of Kevin Fonseca
Team

This is a very interesting idea and could be a incredible project. I'm totally agree about rural incubation and what it means for the dynamic of the communities! My best wishes for the establishment of the network of alliances you need to start this powerful project

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Kevin,

Thanks! I like your "My best friend in the World" concept and we definitely have some perspectives in common. However, the refugee landscape in Europe is quite different compared to Colombia (most refugees come from very different cultural backgrounds here and for many of them it takes a number of years to learn a local language, supported by welfare) and this is why Refival follows another approach (of which some elements may also be useful in Colombia).

Establishing the network of alliances in the current "political agenda" climate of border protection and return of refugees in Europe is indeed quite a challenge and my infrastructural approach simply does not work without all stakeholders on board.

On one side, one can see this as a weakness, but I see it as a strength to focus on better spending of existing (poorly spent) budgets (billions of USD) rather than to find new sources of money.

Further, if I manage to get a successful pilot-project going, this alliance approach makes it possible to easily scale and duplicate, which is of course essential to have sufficient impact because there is the potential to revitalize thousands and thousands of villages in Europe....

At first sight one may wonder why to bother about absorbing 100-500 people/refugees in a single village, but if one realizes that 45 million people left the countryside in Europe over the past 50-60 years, the rural "incubation" capacity looks very different. This explains why the approach must be an infrastructural and scalable one instead of an isolated local NGO project.

This, of course, takes initially more time to setup and for the moment I am still lobbying, meanwhile reaching more than 1000 policy makers and influencers with my newsletters.

If you are aware of any stakeholders (central and local government, private sector, rural communities and refugees) that could be interested, please let them get in touch with me!

Kind Regards,

Hans van Nieuwkerk
www.docs.refival.org
www.openideo2019.refival.org

Photo of Santosh Ittanagi
Team

Hi Johannes, Kindly let me know the refugee camps or location. I would like to work for them. kindly let me know how to connect with you so that we can work together.

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Santosh,

My initiative is unfortunately not yet operational but in the stage to establish partnerships with stakeholders (central and local government, private sector companies, rural communities and refugees). The refugee target group I have in in mind are mainly families who are currently stuck in Greece and Turkey, (and maybe in future Lebanon and Jordan) and most of them are not staying in refugee camps. At the moment that Refival can realize a pilot-project, we will likely involve UNHCR and IOM to select the most vulnerable refugees who match the profile of rural incubation.

Kind Regards,

Hans van Nieuwkerk
P.S. to get in touch, please connect via Linkedin, I meanwhile sent you an invitation

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

My pleasure!

Photo of Charles Tauber
Team

Yours is an excellent project. Thank you for your support.

Photo of NDEF Cameroon
Team

Hi Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk, thank you for your good work out there. We, however, think that livelihood matters are also essential, especially as some of the arrivals may need to be fed or so. In addition to your activities, we thus feel that you could adopt some activities to engage the IDPs for the short time that they may spend with the community to work and make a contribution to livelihood matters. You could get a farm for this purpose. Agroforestry practices and aquaponics could better deliver packages encompassing food crops, tree crops and small livestock with man at the centre. A juxtaposition of these components would lead to symbiotic relationships with mutual benefits. Food crops would provide short term benefits; small ruminants would provide benefits in the medium term while tree crops would provide benefits in the long term. Useful trees serve as the farmers’ insurance cover (pension). On tree planting still, you could adopt vegetative propagation techniques such as grafting and air-layering to produce fruit tree seedlings which deliver fruits in two to three years after planting. In this way, young persons (who are often not patient enough to wait for a long time) will get results of their agribusinesses sooner than later. Could you also consider integrating aquaponics (aquaculture + hydroponics)? Some beneficiaries would have been trained to carry out petty businesses and earn their own livelihoods rather than depend all the time. Nkeng Pius (Executive Director)

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Nkeng,

The situation in Europe is very different to the one in Africa, about 45 million people structurally left the countryside over the past 50 years to live in cities (strongly reducing the rural population and fertility), this because agriculture declined in importance from 20% of GDP to about 2% of GDP and nothing could compensate this.

Although agriculture remains an important pillar for rural economical sustainability (next to craftsmanship and tourism) it is insufficient and the rural decline continues up till today.

However, whereas up till 10 years ago there was no solution to solve this, Internet offers now new possibilities for Education and Employment..... but meanwhile young people are lacking in the countryside and this is where refugee incubation and rural revitalization have great synergy!

Money is less a problem in Europe where in general welfare/social security levels guarantee a "livelihood" level (but do neither make people fulfilled nor happy).

(I wrote an article about the underlying demographic factors (which briefly compares Africa as well) you can it find at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/managing-european-demographics-inclusion-sourcing-van-nieuwkerk/)

Kind Regards,

Hans van Nieuwkerk
www.docs.refival.org

Photo of NDEF Cameroon
Team

Two different scenarios indeed!

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dea Nkeng,

Yes, but in future also Africa will likely face comparable issues..... the green revolution in India for example shows the following: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/76213/1/MPRA_paper_76213.pdf, if Africa is going to face a similar green revolution (you propose some tools for it) also here there will be less rural employment and rural opportunities in the end and this in turn leads/will lead to rapid urbanization.

Of course does also the rural birthrate play an important role here, because it is about the number of people a rural "agricultural" economy/society can support.

Educating rural women is the best way to reduce such birthrate (if this is the preferred policy....) diversification is the best way to retain the economical importance of rural areas.

Of course is this all a long term process and "Africa" is mostly in another stage as "technologically developed" countries are, especially when compared to European countries....

Kind Regards,

Hans van Nieuwkerk

Photo of Sai Kishore Nellore
Team

Dear Mr. Cornelius, The mapping of immigrants based on their needs is indeed a great initiative, wishing you all the best in your endeavors.

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Sai,

Thank you, you may also be interested in a more general article I published: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/addressing-structural-inequality-johannes-cornelis-van-nieuwkerk/

Kind Regards,

Hans van Nieuwkerk

Photo of Ata Akil
Team

Hello Mr. Cornelius

It is so great to share his beautiful idea, Integration between displaced and host communities is really a challenge. what are the suggested scenarios or the mechanisms that your proposal focus on in filling the gab between refugees and hosts, on the other hand, Policies in the host country Can it be an obstacle? Is this movement possible without official interference from the host country?

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Ata,

Thank you for your reply and for your own great proposition/project for/in Gaziantep.

Bridging the gap between refugees and hosts is in "declining rural environments in Europe" not so much of an issue. I know that this sounds a bit weird, but there is natural synergy between the revitalisation of a local economy and becoming part of it. Most communities lack younger people and many refugees bring a strong social sense and respect for elderly people. This means that if refugees contribute to the community they will be accepted. There are no isolated parallel societies in villages, one cannot escape interaction with each other and this works positively for everyone involved.

There are a number examples for this. Riace in Italy (which is unfortunately stopped by the new Italian government now https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/riaces-successful-rural-refugee-integration-model-van-nieuwkerk/) being one of the most clear European ones from a social integration point of view. (Another good "pilot-project" example is Mingoola in Australia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE_6gpy3XEU).

However, there are of course good reasons why there are currently no young people in rural communities. Agriculture used to be 20% of European GDP 60 years ago whereas in most European countries it is no more than 2% today. Such a decline can neither be structurally compensated by eco-agriculture, agro-tourism nor by an increase in traditional crafts (although all three are important pllars of diversification and important elements of rural sustainability!!). The result is that over a period of 60 years young people left the villages for cities. Integrating migrants as such does not counter or solve this type of economical sustainability issues. Although reception of refugees can bring extra (welfare based) money to a local community (depending on the government policies) and can that way positively contribute to the whole community, this nevertheless is no structural solution for rural revitalization.

Rural decline looks at first sight like an irreversable process but it is no longer, meaning there is still hope! Over the past 10-15 years more and more people work remotely via Internet and this is a strongly growing part of the economy/GDP. For the future of any disadvantaged group or deprived area it has thus become essential to connect to this new world of remote education and employment opportunities and become part of its diversification potential.

Bottlenecks are (as you correctly ask) government policies and interference of politics. Refival as a movement is no grassroot movement.... It tries to get all needed stakeholders together (central and local govenrments, private sector employers, local rural communities and refugees or migrants) in order to prove the economical potential of its frameworks via pilot-projects and to from there duplicate success and optimize the rural redevelopment of Europe.

As such is this no money or budget issue (large sums are currently spent on the integration of refugees in Western-Europe but most of that money is spent on housing and subsistence cost in very expensive urban locations where more than 80% or the refugees currently reside.... very little money therefore remains for properly educating people both knowledge and social integration wise).

My conclusion is that probably enough money is being spent/available already but wrongly/inefficiently allocated. Keep in mind that for a large group of refugees (those lacking sufficient education/interrupted education and those without education... together being 80-90% of all refugees) it on average currently takes at least 5 years of full welfare dependency to connect to the European labor market and find employment.

Incubating refugees in villages is therefore very cost effective and creates a clear win-win situation for the host community and for the refugees who temporarily move or permanently settle there. What is lacking is the political will to create this situation and this is what I have been full-time working on and trying to change for the past four years.

Unfortunately the political developments are not looking very promising so far but at the same time the refugee and migration pressure has not changed and must be addressed/reduced/solved..... (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/revitalizing-europe-from-irregular-migration-van-nieuwkerk/) I hope to be able to keep contributing to this, although (having fully privately funded the project so far) without others stakeholder participating and funding the initiative further, this is becoming increasingly difficult.

Kind Regards,

Hans van Nieuwkerk

Photo of Udoka Inwang
Team

Amazing idea Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk 

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Udoka,

Thanks! I think your project is also amazing!

Although maybe a bit further in future, due to "current technological constraints", my Refival approach may probably contribute to the sustainability of African villages as well.

Education and diversification (including economical inclusion of rural areas in the Internet economy) are key.

You may want to read my article about the relationship between demographics and migration, which also touches briefly on Africa.: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/managing-european-demographics-inclusion-sourcing-van-nieuwkerk/

Kind Regards,

Hans van Nieuwkerk

Photo of Senator Owuala
Team

Hi @Johannes Cornelius
This is a very amazing idea and I believe we have something in common with the strategy you have. I believe this thrives so that Refugees/displaced persons can have a reason to live once again. Goodluck

Senator Owuala

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Senator,

Thank you, your Future Alive ProjeKt is very interesting and inspiring, I am from my side always willing to research whether I can contribute or cooperate.

Hans van Nieuwkerk

Photo of Senator Owuala
Team

Hi Johannes

Thank you for your response. I will be most excited to cooperate with you in every possible way. The goal is to see this dream actualised. Thanks once again I believe this collaboration will be massive.

Best Regards,
Senator Owuala.

Photo of Yemen Without Conflict & ICRD
Team

Hi Johannes,

I think this is a fantastic idea that could help ease the relationship between domestic and refugee communities while also allowing refugees to create their own community and increase their economic potential. I am very curious about the European regions in which you plan to implement the project. Which regions contain the most refugees or which could benefit the most from this program? Additionally, I would love to hear your plan to facilitate the relationship between Europeans and refugees. Will there be a program in place to help ease tensions between the host communities and refugees?

Thank you again for sharing and I look forward to seeing your idea flourish!

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Muaadh,

Unfortunately the current political agenda in Europe is dominantly focusing on the fast return of refugees/irregular migrants to their countries of origin and on reinforcing border protection, whereas it would make a lot more sense to instead invest in the proper integration of refugees/migrants.

Europe anyway needs (matching) extra people to compensate the ageing of its population and to fill the gaps the (strong) depopulation of its countryside have left.

Having said so, the demographic and local migration issues are unequally spread over Europe. Main problem areas are Germany, Italy and Spain, most Eastern European countries and the Northern part of Scandinavia, whereas France and the UK relatively face less ageing issues and a higher birthrate level.

Second, European economies vary in strength and employment possibilities. Northern and Western Europe in general being stronger, Southern and Eastern Europe in general being weaker (which reduces their economical absorption capacity for newcomers).

However, as said in the beginning there is meanwhile an important political non-willingness factor which makes implementation of Refival's rural incubation quite hard.

Further, since one does not want to reinvent budgets (many European countries currently very inefficiently spend lots of money (billions of Euros) on often not very successful refugee integration in dominantly urban areas) a structural approach/model, which includes the central and local governments as stakeholders is absolutely essential to succeed (and scale the results).

Taking all the above into account, Refival's current focus (remaining fully open for alternatives) is on finding pilot-project partners in Spain and/or Scandinavia and potentially also Germany. Upon success of a pilot-project, its approach can then afterward spread to other European countries.

In respect to the kind of refugees "selected" (a refugee is a refugee, there should in principle not be any selection). Refival's approach is optimized for young refugee families who at the moment stay in refugee camps (for example in Turkey or Greece) and who face education deficits/interruption (see: https://medium.com/@refival/world-refugee-day-educating-refugee-children-3aeaa94c1182). This group requires a substantial period of adaptation to living and working in Europe (currently it on average takes 5 years before refugees can connect to the European labor market).

Refival's approach is less efficient for highly educated refugees (10-20%, they are in general better off in urban areas) or for (the 50%) people arriving without any education (in order to create synergy/equality/integration with the local community, a labor market connection must be achievable in a time frame of a reasonable number of years). However, for the last group, revitalized villages will (upon success) offer simpler job opportunities as cities and I expect to be able to help part of this fully uneducated group as a spin-off but not as a main target group for the pilot-project.

Your question about "easing" cultural tensions is difficult to answer. Refival has a lot of cultural communication elements in place to increase reciprocal understanding and my personal experience is that as long as people have proper interaction with each other such cultural understanding will grow and, second, that this is easier to achieve in smaller communities as in cities where people often end-up in parallel societies. There are fortunately good example from rural communities where this works well (see for example an Australian example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE_6gpy3XEU or the Italian example of Riace: https://medium.com/@refival/riaces-successful-rural-refugee-integration-model-threatened-289700c6341c)

At the same time there are fundamental European values (for example such as fully individual freedom of choice and responsibility for women and the freedom to be LGBTQ or whatever identity one prefers) which often substantially differ from the refugee's values in their country of origin.

Fortunately Europe has a very wide spectrum of differences inside of its territory and therefore there is ample space for newcomers to keep/preserve a substantial part of their culture, including being Muslim or being member of any other religion (this inside of the same framework in which Italian and Finnish people or European Christians, Buddhists or Jews differ a lot from each other).

Nevertheless can newcomers not escape from assimilation to the basic European values unless their goal is to return home as soon as possible, in which case the target for everyone should be to behave as good hosts and guests (see: https://medium.com/@refival/refugee-integration-the-point-of-no-return-ae4dcd879cd7). If newcomers are not willing to adapt in this respect, it will be difficult to co-exist without tension (see: http://www.pa0319.refival.org/).

Johannes Cornelis (Hans) van Nieuwkerk

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

Hi Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk you have an amazing concept that you have developed since 2015 and since you want to join forces with others working in this space perhaps you can take a look at the work of the Global Eco Village Network and how they engage with refugees around the world https://www.permacultureforrefugees.org/about-us-2/ecovillages/

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Bremley,

Thanks!, I have been looking at the material you sent and there are certainly points of connection and I will contact people at GEN to see if there is potential for common activity.

What in turn may interest you is Refival's "cultural globalization" conceptual framework (http://www.pg0319.refival.org) and its basic 12 pillar solutions revitalization/incubation design (http://www.a1216.refival.org).

Unfortunately there is, next to a philosophical and cultural reality, also a tough economical sustainability issue to be addressed. With the importance of agriculture having declined from 20% of GDP (50-60 years ago) to currently 2% of GDP in Europe, there is an urgent need for economical diversification of rural communities.

Whereas up till 10-15 years ago this was technically not feasible, today, many job tasks can be executed remotely via Internet and in my opinion it is a must for rural communities to obtain a fair share in this part of the economical/labor pie in order to create any sustainable future for themselves.

Bottleneck is, due to ageing and long-time outward migration/urbanization, the availability of young people in the countryside, who could execute such Internet based task. This is in my opinion where synergy between refugee education/integration/incubation and rural revitalization can be found.

Refival's main focus is therefore to develop a scalable model to reestablish the economical sustainability of rural areas. Since 40-50 million people left the European countryside for cities over the past 60 years, there is a huge potential for offering shelter to refugees and/or for the matchmaking between economical migrants and the demands of the European labor market upon success.

Key is education (see: https://medium.com/@refival/world-refugee-day-educating-refugee-children-3aeaa94c1182) and the distribution/relocation of jobs (http://www.openideo2017.refival.org/) in order to stop further deprivation of areas and of vulnerable groups of people.

Johannes Cornelis (Hans) van Nieuwkerk

Photo of Isaac Jumba
Team

Dear Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk great to have you join us for the challenge. We like that you have spend quite some time working on the idea. I wonder if there are some insights that you have already seen or some successes that you have achieved so far working in the space?

 

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Isaac,

The successes I have seen are unfortunately not yet from my own initiative (although I have meanwhile been working 4 years full-time on it and although my publications, see http://www.docs.refival.org, reach a great number of decision makers and influencers in Europe).

Nevertheless I can show the potential success or feasibility of my approach by looking at others who partially follow/ed the same goals.

My main example in this respect is Riace in Italy, which was very successful from a social integration point of view for 10 years, but which has now unfortunately been closed down by the Italian government (see my article: https://medium.com/@refival/riaces-successful-rural-refugee-integration-model-threatened-289700c6341c).

However, the weakness of the Riace example remains its economical sustainability, which it just did not achieve; even after 10 years most funding was social welfare money based.

To address this issue, it is a must to relocate modern style education and jobs to rural villages and these jobs must be additional ones (classical agriculture, local craftsmanship and tourism (Europe) are insufficient to support/revitalize rural communities; a lot of diversification is needed). But looking at the examples of http://www.samasource.com and http://www.ruralshores.com, it is fully feasible to do so! However, this requires political will and cooperation between all stakeholders involved (central & local governments, private sector, the existing rural community and refugees and/or migrants willing to move in).

Unfortunately the current political agenda in Europe is dominantly focusing on the fast return of irregular migrants/refugees to their country of origin and on reinforcing border protection, whereas it would make a lot more sense to instead invest in the proper integration of refugees/migrants. Europe needs (matching) extra people to compensate the ageing of its population and to fill the gaps the (strong) depopulation of its countryside leaves.

Refival thus focuses on creating/optimizing the match between the people arriving and their future in Europe. It calls this process incubation and seeks partners (all stakeholders mentioned before) to work together in a pilot-project in order to prove the longer term economical and social sustainability of its approach.

Johannes Cornelis (Hans) van Nieuwkerk