Welcome to the Country Profile page of Nepal. Below you can find information and news on the country related to migration and development, what JMDI projects are going on in Nepal and key documents or resources related to the projects or country itself.
Political and decentralization context:
Since 2008, Nepal is a Federal Democratic Republic. On September 17th 2015, the parliament approved a new Constitution which came into effect on September 20th, putting an end to seven years of political instability and replacing an Interim Constitution that had been in use since the fall of the monarchy. According to Ananda Prasad Sharma, charge d’ Affaires at the Nepal embassy in Washington DC, the promulgation of the new constitution in Nepal has ensured the successful conclusion of the peace process that started in 2006 by making Nepal the second country in South Asia to adopt a constitution through a democratically elected Constituent Assembly.
The Constitution divides the country into seven provinces set to replace the previous splitting the country into 5 development regions with subsequent 14 administrative zones and 75 districts. While having been overwhelmingly approved, debate surrounding the Constitution has caused popular unrest because of varied political representation amongst the existing ethnic groups. The decentralization in Nepal continues to be an on-going process with local elections never having taken place and local authorities’ competencies still determined by the central power.
Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with about one-quarter of its population living below the poverty line. Nepal is heavily dependent on remittances, which amount to as much as 22%-25% of GDP. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for more than 70% of the population and accounting for a little over one-third of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural products, including pulses, jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain.
Additional challenges to Nepal's growth include its landlocked geographic location, persistent power shortages, underdeveloped transportation infrastructure, civil strife and labor unrest, and its susceptibility to natural disaster.
The situation in Nepal has been aggravated by the devastating earthquake and its aftershocks which hit the country in April and May 2015 respectively. The aftermath of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake included both a humanitarian crisis and massive economic impacts. The damages to the country covered a large range of buildings and infrastructure in the country; from government or residential buildings, roads, schools, heritage sites to health and water infrastructure; more than 600,000 destroyed houses and at least 280,000 damaged residencies (IOM, 2015). The UN estimates 2.8 million people still need humanitarian aid.
The new constitution aims to increase the participation of local people in development processes and has a dedicated section looking to foster development. Furthermore, it envisages the promotion of scientific studies, research, inventions in science and technology. Finally it prioritizes the development of physical infrastructure and the protection of poorer people.
According to the Nepal Institute for Development Studies for the women's fund at the United Nations (UNIFEM), approximately 170,000 or more Nepalis were in East and Southeast Asia, with nearly 36,000 in Europe and over 10,000 in North America by 2002. Furthermore from 2008 to 2014, a[JI1] total of 2,226,152 labour permits were issued (Labor Migration for Employment - A Status Report for Nepal: 2013/2014) for migrants to work abroad. While Malaysia remained the first destination country, over 465,000 Nepalis are working in Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, and Qatar (MPI, 2005). In addition, the main destinations of women migrant workers are Malaysia, UAE, Qatar and Lebanon where they tend to work as domestics or in other areas of the service sector (Ministry of Labour and Employment, 2014).
The Foreign Employment Policy recognizes the problems that migrants experience in the migration process and the Government has collaborated with the United Nations and other international agencies to develop policies and legal frameworks, to establish structural mechanisms and to promote foreign employment as a safe, dignified and decent prospect for would-be migrants
Many migrant workers have low levels of literacy, are unskilled or semi-skilled and lack accurate and adequate information on formal channels for migration. These factors combine to heighten vulnerability with Nepal also considered a main country of origin for the trafficking in persons for labour, sexual and other forms of exploitation.
Women migrants are particularly vulnerable due to a lack of skills which render low salaries and less than ideal workplaces; migration through irregular channels, which increases their vulnerability; and lack of protection, especially for domestic workers, from physical violence, sexual harassment and economic exploitation.
Key local, national laws and bilateral or international agreements related to M&D:
The following organizations are working on Migration and Development-related issues in Nepal
Key documents for this country:
“Safer remittances and improved livelihoods project (SRIL)”
Where: Surkhet and Kailali districts
Context: India has remained a major destination for very poor Nepali households who are seeking higher employment opportunities, which are seasonal in nature. Most migrants are unskilled or illiterate and involved in the informal sector, and as a result, contribute to a very limited addition to the established formal remittance transfer channels. The lack of financial literacy and the low access to suitable financial services are the major reasons for migrants becoming trapped in a vicious cycle of debt and migration as a considerable amount of their income is spent on debt repayment alone. In this context, Oxfam in Nepal has been implementing an internally funded Project named “Safer Remittances and Improved Livelihoods” (SRIL) in Surkhet and Kailali districts since April 2012 aimed at facilitating the use of remittances for improving livelihoods. In the first year, the project focused on awareness raising activities and financial literacy training for 300 households in order to secure safer remittances channels. The SRIL initiative intends to widen the geographic coverage of its activities and to be increasingly involved in local policy discussions on programmes and policies that seek to protect the rights of seasonal migrants and their families.
Objectives: Improve the skills of the migrant workers and their families which will enable them to search for better employment opportunities, manage their income and start their own income-generating activities.
Partner organization(s): Nepal Institute of Development Studies (NIDS), Kathmandu, Environment Development Society (EDS), Surkhet, Forum for Awareness and Youth Activity (FAYA- Nepal), Kailali, Surkhet District Development Committee, Kailali District Development Committee.
Beneficiaries: Direct beneficiaries of the project are the families of seasonal Nepali migrants to India and the migrants themselves
Duration: 21 Months
Contribution from the JMDI: USD 230,000
“Sustainable local development by promoting Local Tourism by migrants and their families through Homestay (HOST Project)”
Context: Nepal has become a country of origin as well as destination for migrants, although the number of outbound migrants is significantly higher than inbound migrants. Indeed, the total stock of migrants in Nepal was 945,865 in 2010 according to the World Bank. Moreover, according to the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Fact Book of 2011, Nepal is 23rd in the list of top destination countries for refugees. In addition, there has been a great contribution to the development of Nepal through remittance based economy with 28.8% of Nepalese GDP coming from Remittances in 2013. Yet migrants continue to face risks of exploitation, risky health and living conditions, discrimination and mistreatment in the workplace and the emotional and psychological stress associated with working away from their home community. This is particularly evident in the Kaski and Tanahu districts which rank 9th and 13th respectively in the top districts affected by emigration.
Migration has thus become a core element of Nepal’s development strategy. Specifically, one area in which the government is focusing on is the development of new homestay sites and promoting them through the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB). This initiative aims to provide alternatives to risky migration by promoting local tourism. It is within this context that the Asian Human Rights and Culture Development Forum (AHRCDF Migrants’ Center) are carrying out the project “Sustainable Local Development by Promoting Local Tourism through the Homestay by Migrants and their Families (HOST project) aimed at opening new avenues for income generation for families of migrants or affected by migration or potential migrants and their families, especially belonging to poor communities and disadvantaged groups through the home stay facilities.
Objectives: The project aims specifically to encourage local tourism initiatives by setting up and supporting homestay facilities among (potential) migrant or migrant affected families where capacity building in hospitality, homestay, financial management, organic farming and tourism promotion will be an essential component to ensure its success. Moreover, through the inclusion of local youth in these activities as well as through awareness campaigns on the risks of irregular migration, local youth will be empowered and provided with an alternative to risky migration practices. Finally, cooperation and coordination with tourism entrepreneurs will be essential to support the homestay facilities to grow and provide further employment opportunities, thus leading to local development and enhancing living conditions among the most vulnerable. The community at large will benefit from increased tourism where they can participate in the process selling goods and other services to tourists. The good practices and lessons learned from this project will then be fed into a proposal for further up-scaling and replication in other districts where pertinent.
Partner organization(s): Asian Human Rights and Culture Development Forum (AHRCDF Migrants’ Center), Nepal Tourism Board Pokhara, Tourism Council Pokhara, District Development Communities (Pumdi Bhumndi and Bhanu), Local Cooperatives, Mother Group, Community Forestry Consumers’ Committee; Youth Clubs.
Beneficiaries: Direct beneficiaries of the project are the migrants and their families in the Kaski and Tanahu districts as well as the entire communities
Duration: 14 Months
Contribution from the JMDI: USD 150,000
For more information, contact the JMDI Focal Point: Moheindu Chemjong, firstname.lastname@example.org