Migration and Cities in Guatemala: Remittances’ Potential Role for Housing

This post is also available in: Español 

Speakers at Housing Laboratory on Guatemala


On August 27, 2020, the first virtual session of a Housing Laboratory on Migration and Cities in Guatemala (LAV by its Spanish initials) was held. As Guatemala's National Housing Council (CONAVI) works to update Guatemala's National Policy on Housing and Human Settlements with strategies to increase access to decent, sustainable housing, this event contributed to discussions regarding the potential that remittances offer for financing the provision of decent housing and broader urban development.

The Laboratory was co-organized by the Inter-American Dialogue's Migration, Remittances, and Development Program, Cities Alliance -member of the Executive Committee of the Urban Housing Practitioners Hub (UHPH)-, the AVINA Foundation, the National Housing Council of Guatemala (CONAVI), the Municipality of Amatitlán, the Commonwealth of Municipalities of the Naranjo River Basin (MANCUERNA), and Propuesta Urbana. The Housing Laboratory was carried out within the framework of the Global Cities and Migration Joint Work Program implemented by Cities Alliance and supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, in its Guatemala chapter.

The Dialogue's Migration, Remittances, and Development Program was represented by Coordinator Kathryn Klaas.

Key Points of Discussion:

  1. Remittances are a potentially important source for financing housing within a broader framework that includes public subsidies, pathways that facilitate access to credit, and incentives for private developers and social organizations. 
  2. Data generated to design and plan approaches linking migration, remittances, and housing should be sufficiently disaggregated so that strategies can respond to local contexts.
  3. Financial inclusion among migrants and remittance recipient families is critical, as are strategies that support their incorporation into formal economic and financial systems. Banks and cooperatives should provide agile, innovative tools and technology that accelerate these processes.
  4. It is imperative to address the relationship between remittances and housing within the framework of broader urban development. Informality in housing construction jeopardizes the possibility of generating a virtuous circle, whereby the savings that families build from the remittances they receive then flow into housing finance. Houses built through irregular means (especially those located in hazard-prone areas) cannot represent an asset worth formal investment.
  5. Urban planning is key alongside planning for land use. Municipalities have a central role in processes that determine where housing will be built. In order to lead these processes effectively, municipalities must strengthen their institutional capacity and foster cooperation among different stakeholders, including at the inter-municipal level.

Watch the full event recording in Spanish here:



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