International Migration and Local Development in Nepal

Article excerpt


Migration and globalisation are gradually breaking down the age-old boundaries between the countries. It has been rapidly changing the traditional spheres of human activity. The concept of 'global village' has become a reality. Formerly isolated towns and villages in the countryside of Asia have become closer to New York or London than to the capital of their own country. However, the situation of poverty that forced rural inhabitants to migrate in the first place still exists in their places of origin and continues to influence their lives and prospects in their "new countries", as well as those of the people they left behind. In the receiving societies, migration and development policies generally constitute separate policy domains. This has hampered the elaboration of effective policies that establish a more positive connection between migration and development (de Haas 2005).

Migration is one of the three components of demography and population change. The changes in scale and pattern of migration have a great consequence in both areas of origin and destination; influences in social, economic, cultural, and political configuration of a society. When we talk about migration, we encounter a number of dichotomies that such as in-/out-, rural/urban, temporary/permanent, internal/international, voluntary/ forced etc. This sometimes creates difficulties to operationalize the concept. A general definition of migration is the movement of people from one place to another either temporarily or permanently within the country and abroad (Skeldon 1997; Spaan 1999). Demographically, the basic form of migration is either in- or out-migration, which changes not only the population size but also the structure of population in both areas of origin and destination. In-migration stands for inward movement, while out-migration is the outward movement of people from a particular area. The paper aims to situate the existing trends and patterns of labour out-migration in Nepal and analyse its potential impacts in country's local development through a socio-anthropological point of view.

Migration takes place due to so many reasons such as conflict, political and social instability, economic incentives, and the like (de Haan 2000). Even than not for all reasons mentioned, the international migration motivated by economic reasons is a phenomenon that affects increasing number of people, households, and the communities worldwide. Many studies of Diasporas tend to focus on issues like identity and adjustment to their destination rather than the current and potential role in the development of their countries of origin (Hugo 2003). In other words, most migration studies have paid attention to the areas of destination, the migrants themselves and what causes migration (de Haas 2005; Kabki 2007; Shrestha 1988). In the areas of origin, studies are mainly focused on the economic impacts of remittances at macro-level (Massey et al. 1993; Spaan 1999; Taylor et al. 1996a, 1996b). The complex relationship between out-migration and local development at the areas of origin is still scarce (Kothari 2003; Rodenburg 1993). Indeed, labour out-migration has diverse social, economic, and demographic consequences not only in the areas of destination but also in the areas of origin (Adger et al. 2002; Connell and Conway 2000; Skeldon 1997; Spaan 1999).

Nepal is one of the least developed countries in the world. The census carried out in 2001 by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) reported the country's total population as 23 million (CBS 2001) but the current estimation is about 27 million with per capita GDP about US$ 470 (CBS 2008). Nepal is a mountainous country situated on the lap of Himalayan range facing south towards the Plain of Ganges River. The country is small with 147 thousands sq. km. area landlocked between two 'giants', China and India. Agriculture remains a major source of livelihood where about 85 percent people depend on subsistence agriculture. …