Can Migratory Contacts and Remittances Contribute to Reconciliation and Reconstruction in Rwanda?



Migratory contacts may have a positive or a negative influence on local processes of reconciliation and reconstruction. However, their impact on individual attitudinal and behavioural attributes remains a largely underexposed topic. Migrants from post-conflict Rwanda maintain substantive contacts with their relatives through social networks and the resources that they send. Reconstruction and reconciliation programmes in post-conflict Rwanda heavily rely on these migratory contacts. We explore the relationship between migration, reconstruction and reconciliation processes in post-conflict Rwanda. We analyse the importance of migratory contacts as a major constituent of social capital, and discuss whether and how remittances can be used for mobilizing this social capital. Adopting a micro-level perspective, we examine the effects of migratory contacts and remittances on cooperative behaviour and willingness for reconciliation amongst 558 households in Huye District, southern Rwanda. We find that migratory contacts enhance reconstructive behaviour and reconciliatory attitudes, whereas financial remittances result in reduced participation in these processes, indicating that there is a crowding-out effect due to remittance-dependency. Furthermore, we scrutinize the relationship between reconciliation and reconstruction, showing that inter-group contact is a key mediating variable.