Sustainable Land Management in Mountain Regions of Bolivia and Nepal in the Context of Outmigration, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction

How is land management in mountains being affected by migration, climate changes and hazard events in Cochabamba region (Bolivia) and Kaski District (Nepal)?


In Nepal, the area of study is located in the Harpan river subwatershed of the Harpan river. This subwatershed is lying between 850 m in the East and 2470 m in the South West. The steepest parts of the subwatershed are covered with forest, home to many native species of plants (e.g. more than 100 types of orchids), while the more gentle slopes and the lowlands are covered with fields. The main occupation has traditionally been subsistence agriculture. However, nowadays, due to the little remuneration coming from agriculture, young people want a better life and a job that gives them cash, which the Nepali economy is not able to offer to everyone. As a consequence most men choose to leave the country to work abroad. The main destinations are India, followed by the Gulf countries (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE), Malaysia and other countries in Asia. A few Nepali are also moving to Western countries.

Traditionally, the division of labour in a household was: men taking care of the land and women of the livestock, family and house. As most men are now missing, the women have to deal with the land as well. Every month, the men are sending remittances home to help their family which are used for different purposes, with education and buying goods being the most important, while very little is used for agriculture.

A consequence of migration is land abandonment, either because the families left behind are not able to manage their whole land or because they are not living on their land anymore. This has become so widespread over the last years that questions about the consequences of land abandonment on nature are now being raised.

Some positive consequences to outmigration are that women are becoming more empowered since they have to make the decisions when their husbands are abroad and they now also participate in women’s group activities and learn new skills.

In the future, villages uphill might empty even more as the young generation does not want to stay in the area and instead moves to the valley and to the cities for their education and in the pursuit of a better life.Project Members

Name Role Department/Institute Institution
Michel Jaboyedoff Coordinator ISTE – Institut des Sciences de la Terre Université de Lausanne
Hanspeter Liniger Co-Coordinator Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) Universität Bern
Freddy Delgado Principal Member AGRUCO – Agroecologia Universidad de Cochabamba
Esther Haldimann Principal Member HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation
Raoul Kaenzig Principal Member Institut de Géographie Université de Neuchâtel
Rajendra Khanal Principal Member IUCN International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Ivanna Penna Principal Member ISTE – Institut des Sciences de la Terre Université de Lausanne
Gudrun Schwilch Principal Member Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) Universität Bern
Karen Sudmeier-Rieux Principal Member ISTE – Institut des Sciences de la Terre Université de Lausanne
Bishnu Upreti Principal Member Nepal Center for Contemporary Research
Stéphanie Jaquet Principal Member Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) Universität Bern


Schwilch, G., A. Adhikari, M. Jaboyedoff, S. Jaquet, R. Kaenzig, H. Liniger, I. M. Penna, K. Sudmeier-Rieux & B. R. Upreti. 2017. Impacts of Outmigration on Land Management in a Nepali Mountain Area. In Identifying Emerging Issues in Disaster Risk Reduction, Migration, Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Shaping Debates and Policies, eds. K. Sudmeier-Rieux, M. Fernández, I. M. Penna, M. Jaboyedoff & J. C. Gaillard, 177-194. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Jaquet, S., G. Shrestha, T. Kohler & G. Schwilch (2016) The Effects of Migration on Livelihoods, Land Management, and Vulnerability to Natural Disasters in the Harpan Watershed in Western Nepal. Mountain Research and Development, 36, 494-505. 

Jaquet, Stéphanie; Schwilch, Gudrun; Hartung-Hofmann, Fritz; Adhikari, Anu; Sudmeier-Rieux, Karen; Shrestha, Gittat; Liniger, Hanspeter; Kohler, Thomas (2015). Does outmigration lead to land degradation? Labour shortage and land management in a western Nepal watershed. Applied geography, 62, pp. 157-170. Elsevier 10.1016/j.apgeog.2015.04.013

Jaquet, Stéphanie (2015). Does migration lead to land degradation? How a labour shortage is affecting land management in two selected watersheds in Nepal (Unpublished). In: Perth III: Mountains of Our Future Earth. Perth, Scotland. 04.10.-08.10.2015.

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