Stay or go: Migration should be a choice

Stay... or go? It's a question tens of thousands of young people in Nepal are facing.  With few opportunities at home, many young Nepalese seek work abroad. 

But there are risks: the potential for abuse during recruitment and employment, few guarantees of on-the-job safety and little to ensure the rights of migrant workers will be respected.

Explore the InfoStory to find out what Nepal is doing to promote decent work opportunities at home and informed labour migration abroad.

"I have to leave my daughter at a hostel"

Sanju Nepali is preparing to leave for Dubai to work as a domestic worker. Without family to help, Sanju has to leave her two-year-old daughter behind at a hostel in Kathmandu. Sanju worries her daughter won't remember her when she returns.

Sunita Bk is also preparing to leave Nepal, for the second time. She worked for four years in Kuwait taking care of her employer's six children. Sunita says she was treated well, but met many other domestic workers who were not as lucky.

Facts about labour migration from Nepal

1,600 workers are leaving for foreign employment each day.  Close to 3.5 million migrant labour permits have been issued to Nepalis in the last 9 years.

The top country of destination for Nepali migrant workers is Malaysia.

Today, half of all Nepali families rely on financial support from relatives abroad.

"If I had received vegetable farming training before, I would not have migrated to Lebanon"

Sushila Tamang, Vegetable farmer and former migrant domestic worker

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Before going abroad: making an informed choice

Nepal's Migration Resource Centres (MRCs) around the country give potential migrants the opportunity to make an informed choice before going abroad.

In the government’s "Labour Village" in Kathmandu, Nepali migrant workers come to get their labour permits processed.  The ILO supports an MRC here where workers can find out about their rights and support services in destination countries,  as well as access legal counsel and referral support.

In rural areas through the ILO-DFID Work in Freedom programme, some former migrant workers are now sharing their own experiences working abroad with young people considering migrating for work.

Connecting people to employers and training in Nepal

More than 500,000 young Nepalese enter the labour market every year. The challenge? Creating enough opportunities for decent work that keep potential migrants at home.

Government Employment Service Centres, supported by ILO’s Labour Market Information and Employment Services (LIfE) Project and financed by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), help young Nepalese jobseekers to make good choices about education, training and employment in Nepal.

After the earthquake: Repairing roadways to create decent jobs at home

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which struck Nepal on 25 April 2015, killed nearly 9,000 people, destroyed part of the country’s infrastructure and left millions homeless.

With financial support from the World Bank, the ILO is assisting the Government of Nepal with one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects, called "Strengthening the National Rural Transport Programme (SNRTP) ".

It’s an opportunity to create decent jobs for local people who may otherwise have migrated for work.  The programme aims to create 3.9 million days of paid work building bridges, repairing and maintaining local road networks and river crossings in 36 districts.  

“Professionalizing” informal tourism work in Nepal

The Way Out of Informality (WOI) project, financed by the Government of Japan, aims to formalize and "professionalize" informal businesses, making them more attractive to customers and investors and more sustainable.

Tourism is a particularly promising sector to promote formal jobs and local economic development.

Nepal's women entrepreneurs are taking the lead

More and more women are making the choice to start their own businesses in Nepal and they are not only creating decent employment.

With the support of the ILO, women entrepreneurs are helping each other succeed. They share business practices to build security and provide for their families, at the same time they are changing long-held perceptions about gender and the role of women in society.

Moving forward together

Nepal faces profound challenges. But despite years of political and economic hardship, there is ongoing, constructive dialogue and active international partnerships to address the issue of labour migration and create more decent jobs.

In December 2016, on the 50th anniversary of the partnership between the ILO and Nepal, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder visited the Labour Village, calling for extending fair recruitment initiatives and to make such policies a reality for all migrant workers in the country, so that for Nepal's people, “migration should not be an obligation but a choice”.