How Rural Out-Migration Drive Land-Use Change: A Case Study from the Middle Hills of Nepal

Miss Bhawana KC1, Associate Professor Digby Race1, Dr. Bob Fisher1, Dr William Jackson1

1University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Australia

Out-migration has become a key livelihood strategy for an increasing number of rural households, including Nepal. This phenomenon has a profound effect on land management practices as rural communities adapt to new challenges and opportunities associated with out-migration. This study explores the causes and the differences in land management practices followed by migrant and non-migrant households and its probable consequences. We conducted a study in Lamjung district in western Nepal using a mixed-method approach. We found that the land-use decision and consequent land-use change associated with outmigration are complex and not necessarily uni-directional. Land-use change is also being observed with non-migrant households, and whilst some of this change may be associated with impacts of migration, it is also likely that broader social and economic factors influencing the decisions. Under-utilization is more prominent phenomenon in land-use change than land abandonment and rural communities found to move towards less intensive farming. A high risk of food insecurity is likely to be exacerbated if the current trajectory of under-utilization or abandonment of farmland continues. Locally-specific strategies targeting the needs of farming communities to tackle the underlying causes of limited economics and de-population faced by rural communities are more likely to succeed than broad-scale national land-use policies.


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