Migration to and from the Nepal terai: shifting movements and motives

  • Hom Nath Gartaula University of Manitoba and Canadian Mennonite University
  • Anke Niehof Wageningen University


In Nepal, the historical evidence shows that migration to the terai increased after the eradication of malaria in the late 1950s and has been increasing ever since. More recently, however, out-migration from the terai is rapidly increasing. By applying both qualitative and quantitative research methods, in-depth qualitative interviews, focus group discussions and household survey were used for data collection, with considerable inputs from ethnographical fieldwork for about 21 months. The paper presents three types of population flows in the historical pattern. First, the history of Nepal as an arena of population movement; second, the gradual opening up of the terai, leading to the hills-terai movement; and the third, the current outward flow as an individual migration for work. The paper exemplifies that poverty and lack of arable land are not the only push factors, but that pursuing a better quality of life is gaining importance as a migration motive. We conclude that like movements of people, their motives for moving are also not static and cannot be taken for granted.

Author Biographies

Hom Nath Gartaula, University of Manitoba and Canadian Mennonite University

Hom Gartaula holds a PhD in social sciences from Wageningen University, the Netherlands, with a focus on sociology and anthropology of development. Currently, he is working as a Postdoctoral Fellow jointly hosted by the Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba and the Department of International Development Studies, Canadian Mennonite University, both located in Winnipeg, Canada. His areas of interest include agrarian change, rural development, indigenous knowledge, gender, wellbeing, and food security.


Anke Niehof, Wageningen University

Anke Niehof was trained as an anthropologist and demographer and holds a PhD from Leiden University, the Netherlands. Since 1993, she is the Chair of the Sociology of Consumers and Households Group at Wageningen University, the Nether­lands. Her theoretical interests include house­holds as complex adaptive systems in a context of social and cultural change, care and gender, and agency of households in achieving livelihood and food security.

How to Cite
Gartaula, H., & Niehof, A. (2013). Migration to and from the Nepal terai: shifting movements and motives. The South Asianist Journal, 2(2). Retrieved from http://www.southasianist.ed.ac.uk/article/view/65