The research draws on interviews with rural-urban migrant construction workers in Kathmandu as well as with families of construction workers, other migrant labourers and non-migrants in two contrasting villages in the Karve district in Central Nepal and Saptari district in the Terai. Interviews at destination show that migrant construction labourers are poorly educated, not organised and vulnerable to exploitative working conditions at the hands of agents and employers. Despite tough working conditions and high expenses in the city, a majority of migrants remitted money to their families. Remittances were used for a variety of poverty reducing and social status enhancing purposes. Interviews at origin showed how social structure and factors related to class, gender and ethnicity influenced the necessity and ability to participate in migrant construction work. Households with construction migrants and households with other types of migrants (labourers) were better off than non-migrants, and subjective assessments by the migrants, their families and others in the village community suggest that migration had led to positive changes. Expenditure figures also show that there are significant differences between spending on education by migration status and type. In both villages, construction migrants spent more on education than other migrants and non-migrants. Women’s control over remittance spending differed by ethnicity, with Tamang women belonging to indigenous hill communities having more control over household finances compared to Madhesi women in the Terai. The paper explores the reasons for these observed differences and offers lessons for policy in the area of migrant support.
Adhikari, J.; Deshingkar, P. How Migration into Urban Construction Work Impacts on Rural Households in Nepal. Migrating out of Poverty RPC Working Paper No. 27. Migrating out of Poverty Consortium, Brighton, UK (2015) 49 pp.