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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The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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