SIHMA | Scalabrini Institute For Human Mobility In Africa

Remittances: Emerging digital technologies and cross-border food remittances

Remittances play a significant role in supporting millions of families and communities globally. Every year more than 200 million migrant workers send remittances to their families back home and these are in turn utilized for education, food, health care, clothing, and other basic commodities (JLIFAD, 2023). Remittances not only benefit direct recipients of the remittances but increases the country’s GDP and contribute to the attainment of the SDGs, particularly ending poverty and hunger; promoting good health, quality education, clean water and sanitation, decent work, and economic growth; and reducing inequalities (Global dev, 2021; JLIFAD. 2023).

Over the past 2 decades, Zimbabwe has seen an episode of millions of Zimbabweans migrating to other countries in search for greener pastures. With this, a lot of breadwinners send remittances back to Zimbabwe for family for various purposes. Within Zimbabwe, remittances constitute between 13.6% - 10.1% of GDP from 2011 to 2020 (World Bank, 2022). Furthermore, in 2019, formal international remittances sent by Zimbabwean migrants were estimated to be about 636 million and in 2020 reached to more than USD 1 billion (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, 2021). In most instances, remittances are in the form of money sent back to countries of origin but there are other forms of remittances, for example food remittances which often receive less attention. In 2023, researchers Sithole, S., Tevera, D. and Mulugeta, D. F. published an article examine unexplored synergies digital-mobile technologies and cross-border food remittances of Zimbabwe migrants in Cape Town South Africa, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper highlights ways in which the participants regularly send food remittances to their households which have faced food crisis which was specifically exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper also points out a shift from the informal channels of food remitting to an increased used of digital and mobile transfers which allow for tracking. This paper is the ninth Working Paper in the MiFOOD Working Paper series published by the Hungry Cities Partnership, an international network of cities and organizations that focuses on building sustainable cities and urban food systems in the Global South.

To read the full paper, refer to the following website:


Global dev. 2021. The role of remittances in economic development. Available:

JLIFAD. 2023. 13 reasons why remittances are important. Available:

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. 2021. “Monetary Policy Statement: Staying on Course in Fostering Price and Financial System Stability.” Available:

Sithole, S., Tevera, D., and Mulugeta, D.F. 2023. Emerging Digital Technologies and Cross-Border Food Remittances of Zimbabwean Migrants in Cape Town, South Africa, During the Early COVID-19 Pandemic. MiFood Paper No. 9, Waterloo.

5.     World Bank. 2022. Personal remittances, received (% of GDP) - Malawi. Available:

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