Case Study #14: Mitigation of caste-based and ethnic exclusion in rural areas through migration and development
This case study forms part of a series of case studies on good practices, lessons learnt and recommendations extracted from the projects supported by the UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) to enhance migration management for local development. The experience of the JMDI shows that the most effective initiatives are anchored with local or regional authorities and carried out in a multi-stakeholder and participatory approach, including migrants and migrants’ associations or diaspora. This is increasingly important given global trends of increasing decentralization and urbanization with urban areas being the destination of choice for most migrants and displaced persons. Thus the series aims to provide local actors with tools and ideas to take on this role as many can lack the means, human and financial resources, know-how or necessary support to tap into the local development potential of migration.
This case study analyses the role of migrant returnees in creating inclusive communities by extending opportunities to Dalits (also referred to as the ‘lower caste’ or ‘untouchables’) through the establishment of a Dalit run homestay businesses. The purpose of the homestay tour-ism service is to generate self-employment opportunities and economic growth in the rural communities by providing homestay residential services that offer a local cultural experience to their guest. The right to non-discrimination and respect, including social, physical and psychological well-being, is largely recognized as universal human rights and a precondition for a dignified life. Moreover, the extent to which the rights of migrants or displaced persons are protected and ensured is key for the successful integration of migrants and, consequently, their ability to contribute to society and community development. During the course of their migratory journey, migrants or displaced persons experience various forms of discrimination and xenophobia, which can affect their self-respect and prevent their full integration into their host communities. Furthermore, their personal experience of exclusion and their desire for social acceptance can also be associated with what they have experienced in their own home communities, where rigid forms of social and ethic exclusion may exist. It is within this con-text that migrants, and particularly returnees, can serve as a powerful catalyst for disintegrating caste and ethnic boundaries through their involvement in locally led migration for development initiatives. For example, returnees can facilitate the social inclusion of the Dalits by organizing, inter alia, regular information and awareness raising campaigns or holding interaction meetings among groups of those within different castes. These initiatives can serve to promote the importance of social inclusion, principles of equality, and equal treatment irrespective of caste, ethnicity, sex, and religious affiliation, as is also enshrined in the new constitution (2015) of Nepal. Thus, the role of the migrant returnees can be instrumental in changing local perceptions and caste-based discrimination by sharing their own experience of exclusion and the constraints they faced as migrants. The role of local authorities and other local actors is crucial to sup-port and encourage this. Indeed, their endorsement can legitimize return migrants’ efforts and thus give them more weight among the community. Moreover, working directly to support these initiatives can ensure they are in line with local development priorities. Finally, local authorities and other local actors can also link up returnees to target communities or groups.