Around 3.5 million Nepalese are working abroad as migrant workers, primarily in South Korea, Malaysia, Gulf countries and India. Most are involved in semi-skilled and unskilled labour, mainly on building sites, in factories and domestic work. Nepalese migrants send over US$4 billion of remittance home per year, the third highest of all migrant workers globally, which contributes 28% of Nepal’s gross domestic product (GDP). These contributions however have made at an enormous cost to the life, health and well-being of migrants and their families.
The main aim of this presentation is to highlight the trends and patterns of out migration from Nepal. It focuses the impacts of migration on individual, family, households and national level. It also highlights the health risks of migration including mortality and morbidity patterns of Nepalese migrant workers.
This presentation is based on three studies (a) qualitative interviews with rescued women migrants (n=16) and policy-makers and people working in migration-related organisations (n=15) in Nepal; (b) a total 800 households survey (400 migrants and 400 non-migrants) in Chitwan Nepal and (c) secondary quantitative data collected from 1052 returned/rescued migrant women from the records of an organisation working for migrants.
Key findings are left-behind wives were depressed and have more than ten times greater odds for depression than wives of non-migrants, but left-behind wives experienced greater autonomy as compared to wives of non-migrants. Women migrating through irregular routes (i.e. undocumented) are more likely to have mental health problems and younger women are more likely to have mental health problems (13% below 25 vs 5% among over 35 yrs). Domestic workers are more likely to get mental problems in compare to other workers.
Better information prior to departure may make migrants aware of their health risks and rights. There is an urgent need to address exploitation and other migrant issues both in Nepal and destination countries.