Kathmandu - More than half of 2.2 million Nepalis leaving the country for foreign employment in the last six years were from Tarai districts, according to a government report. Of the total migrants taking labour permits from the Department of Foreign Employment, 50.4 percent were from Tarai, 43.9 percent from hills and 5.7 percent mountains.
Stakeholders say factors including easy access to passport, deepening poverty and lack of job opportunities at home prompted an ever increasing number of youths from Tarai to migrate to the Gulf and Malaysia. The report titled “Labour Migration for Employment: A Status Report for Nepal 2013/14” has given an in-depth trend of foreign employment over the last six years (from 2008-09 to 2013-14). The report shows 10 districts of Tarai accounted for a third of the total outbound migrant workers. The top ten migrant worker sending districts are Dhanusa, Mahottari, Jhapa, Morang, Siraha, Nawalparasi, Saptari, Sunsari, Sarlahi and Rupendehi.
Many of these districts, adjoining the country’s southern border, lag far behind in terms of basic facilities like education and health with widening gap between the rich and poor.
Ganesh Gurung, a foreign employment expert, says attraction towards foreign employment is fading among the hilly population, while it is growing in the Tarai region. He said an increasing number of poor who used to migrate to Indian states in search of jobs are migrating to the Gulf and Malaysia these days. “Earlier, a certain ethic communities like Gurung, Magar, Rai and Limbu from hilly region used to migrate, but that has reached a saturation point. Now, those who used to go to Indian states for work are replacing them,” said Rai.
He said people from Mid- and Far-western Regions will gradually divert their attention from India to the Gulf due to high pay. As far as the migratory trend of female migrants is concerned, a few districts, mainly from the hilly region, account for half of the total departure. The top ten districts that send the highest number of female migrant workers are Sindhupalchowk, Jhapa, Morang, Makwanpur, Kavreplanchowk, Kathmandu , Nuwakot, Sunsari, Illam and Dolakha.
These districts accounted for 50.3 percent of the women leaving the country for overseas job through formal channels over the review period. Gurung said mostly lower-caste women from Hilly and Tarai districts are opting for overseas jobs, while such a trend is insignificant among women from Madheshi communities. The report shows growing attraction of women towards foreign employment despite the government’s relentless scrutiny, legal hassles and recurring travel ban on female migrants to work in the domestic sector. The number of women acquiring labour permits increased 239 percent over the last six years, while male departures rose 139 percent.
Bal Bahadur Tamang, former chairperson of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies, said the actual number of women going to the Gulf and Malaysia could be more as a large number of women use informal channel to go abroad. “The government should understand this desperation of women. If you can’t provide job, you should not stop them to leave,” said Tamang.
Although there has been exponential growth in the number of Nepalis going for foreign employment, the outward movement has been largely concentrated on five countries.
The report shows 97.42 percent of the migrants took permits to work in five countries—Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait—over the review period, although Nepal has opened 109 labour destinations. Malaysia the largest work destination for Nepali migrants, accounting for 40.9 percent. The country witnessed 600 percent increase in the inflow of Nepalis between 2008-9 and 2013-14.
The report prepared by the Ministry of Labour and Employment in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration shows Nepali migrant workers from almost all districts have died in the labour destinations, with Tarai districts dominating the top 10 list. Some 3,272 Nepali migrants died in the labour destinations over the review period due to heart attack, murder, natural cause, suicide, traffic accident, work place accident and other unidentified causes.
According to the Census 2011, more than half of the country’s population lives in the Tarai belt, while those living in the hills and mountains constitute nearly 43 and 7 percent, respectively.
Migrant workers’ movement (2008-09 to 2013-14)
|Region||No of migrants||Percent|
Top 10 migrant sending districts
|District||Percent of departures|
Top ten districts sending female migrant workers
|District||Percent of departures|
Top five labour destinations
|Country||Percent of departures|