Approximately four million people from Nepal currently work abroad to support their families at home. At some point many of them return – a reintegration that is not always easy. A new project shows how this can be successful.
Project NameReintegration of Returnee Migrant Workers (ReMi)
Project Phase2022 to 2026
FundingThis project is an SDC mandate.
Thematic focusVoice, Inclusion & Cohesion
Private Sector Development
Skills, Jobs and Income services
Education and Vocational Skills
In addition to around 800,000 Nepalese currently living abroad permanently, between two and three million are working abroad on a temporary basis (as of 2022). Most of them – at least those who choose the legal path of guest work – are men. They have left Nepal to pursue work mostly in countries on the Arabian Peninsula and in Malaysia. Here they earn better money, in the construction sector, in hotels and restaurants, and in clothing factories, to support their families back home. Their contribution of around a third to Nepal's GDP is substantial.
But temporary contracts eventually come to an end. Helvetas supports returnees so that they can reintegrate into working life, family, and society.
Strenghten offers for returnees
According to the World Bank the unemployment rate in Nepal is 11 percent (as of 2022). Accompanying returnees is important because their social and economic reintegration can be difficult. For this Helvetas supports employment service centers which are located in each municipality across Nepal to collaborate with various institutions, such as banks, other NGOs, and companies to offer the returnees help in finding jobs, starting small businesses, further training, financial literacy and the opportunity to certify skills acquired abroad. Because such centers are new in many places, Helvetas simultaneously strengthens both the range of offered services and their quality, as well as helping to make them better known.
Reconnecting to home
Reuniting with the family is not always easy either. Women who stayed behind have had to seek support in their everyday lives - also from men – or live in joint families and can have disputes with their in-laws with whom they live. In more rural communities, this can lead to misunderstandings, rumors, and distrust among husbands and wifes. Many of the returnees have also lived in exploitative working conditions and are traumatized. Helvetas trains staff to identify those in need, diagnose the nature of the trauma and refer them to the adequate institution, self-help groups or specialists. This psychosocial support – which is very new to Nepal still – will, in the future, be ensured by the local governments.
During the first phase of this project more than 30,000 returnees will be accompanied in 20 municipalities of two of Nepal's southernmost provinces Koshi and Madhesh. The project is a joint initiative of the Government of Nepal and the Government of Switzerland, wherein Helvetas provides technical assistance for implementation.