“Sometimes I cry because they left.” Bel Maya Gurung is a 70-years-old talkative and energetic old lady. She has seen her village of Tangting changing and a lot of mostly young man leaving.
We are sitting on the ground of her traditional clay house. The open fire stove blazes. During we have a cup of black tea she talks about her children. “All of my five children left Tangting. One daughter is in Pokhara, two of my sons are in Japan and two are in Malaysia. They send some money and I can buy food in the shop. But they never come to visit me. If I were young I would open a homestay or a big farm here in the village.”
Tangting is a Gurung village around 20 kilometres away from Pokhara. Since winter 2015 it is possible to go to the village by bus. Tangting is situated below the Lanjung Himal base camps and Annapurna IV at an altitude of 1650m. From everywhere in the village you have a breathtaking view to the Annapurna Range.
Like in most of the rural areas there are not enough jobs for young people, many of them leave to Pokhara, Kathmandu or abroad, mostly for working in the Arab countries.
Nepal is still among the ten less urbanised countries in the world. But the urbanisation is increasing rapidly having the highest urbanisation rate in all over South-Asia. According to the world bank it increased from 1960 to 2015 from around 3 percent to around 28 percent.
Consequently, with 36 percent the Kathmandu Valley has the largest net inflow of lifetime migrants. The Eastern Hills and Mountains the highest net outflow with 24 percent.
Om Prakash Gurung the principal of the Himalaya Milan Secondary School is sad about the changes. “The biggest problem is migration. The number of students is decreasing and permanent teachers do not prefer to stay here, they would like to go to urban schools in Pokhara or Kathmandu.”
He loves his village and organizes a lot of cooperation abroad. Also because of a cooperation with a school in UK the Milan Himalayan has got a good building, is well equipped and there is no fee for the students. Nearly every house has working sanitary facilities and a micro hydropower station delivers electricity. But that is not sufficient. “The salary we get here is not enough. There is a lack of facilities. We need a good hospital,” said Hom Bahadur Gurung. His grandfather was a Gurkha and his father in the Indian Army. They used a part of the salary to provide Hom a good education in Pokhara. His parents never left Tangting to settle somewhere else.
Hom is now 21 years old and volunteering at the village school. His plan is to go abroad: “I would like to go abroad for further studies. Maybe four, five years. Then I will come back because I think we youth have to change the village with the knowledge we got abroad.”
Om Prakash Gurung isn’t as optimistic: “Approximately two or three young people are missing in every house because of migration. After earning money, they do not come back often. There is not enough manpower for the work. Only old people the grandmother and the grandfather are living here.”
The labour migration plays an important role in Nepal’s economy and social development. According to the Department of Foreign Employment 1200 people left Nepal for employment every day in the fiscal year 2014-15. Among all countries in the world, Nepal was the largest recipient of remittances (as a share of GDP, 32%, NPR589.5 billion) in the fiscal year 2014-15, says a report by the worldbank.
“The challenges associated with labour migration require concerted action both within the country of origin as well as in the destination countries. Issues like lack of labour rights, absence of fundamental principles and rights at work, poor compensation, trafficking, fraud and abuse need to be tackled with a strong political will with a multi-stakeholder support,” said Deepak Bohara, the minister of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
As young man Eka Jung Gurung left Tangting. Now he is one of the community leaders and is enthusiastic to develop his village. “In the next months, together with neighbouring villages, we will organize some trainings for young people as tourist guide, in hotel management and maybe as cook.” He wants to achieve that young men don’t have to leave the village, like he had to do. Eka worked 18 years in Dubai. “When I went 19 years ago the agency fee wasn’t expensive, around 60,000 Nepalese Rupee. But now it’s very costly, more than 200,000 Rupee.” The working conditions are bad and there is an absence of worker rights. A total of 4,322 deaths of migrant workers were reported by the Department of Foreign Employment from 2008-09 to 2014-15. Eka Gurung is angry about the situation: “They are working there under high temperature forty, fifty degrees. I saw so many young boys having accidents. Dead bodies were sent to Nepal weekly.” When he went to Dubai the company took his passport, he got it back after completing his first two-years contract, for a home visit at Dashain. He wants to prevent that young people have to go there and work as well as live under these conditions. “The minimum salary in Dubai is 14,000 Rupees. When you work here in the school or the hydropower project you earn more money. But the problem is there are not enough jobs, that’s why the people go to the Arab countries,” Eka Gurung says.
Om Prakash Gurung thinks the people would come back from Pokhara, if they developed the village more. “We have a good school, a good health post and since a year a by bus negotiable road to Pokhara. There are possibilities, but the government should also take its responsibility.”