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Migrant workers in West Bay Doha
  1. To produce new empirical knowledge of how the pandemic has shaped the lives of temporary labour migrant workers and their households,
  2. To offer new insights on the challenges related to the reintegration of migrant workers after return and the strategies of resilience that returnee migrants and their households develop,
  3. To critically analyze the role of the private sector and intermediaries in ‘emergency return’ migration and provide key recommendations for Nepali policy makers and other stakeholders on how to provide return and reintegration support,
  4. To offer a critique on national and regional migration governance that privileges regulated temporary migration without providing safeguards to address migrant vulnerability towards unexpected developments like a pandemic emergency,
  5. To develop innovative policy thinking on sustainable managed migration schemes that builds on current migrant experiences under the pandemic.

How did the pandemic impact temporary labour migrant workers from Nepal?

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many migrant workers becoming particularly vulnerable to economic and social hardships. Temporary migrant workers are concentrated in industries that cannot readily adapt to remote working practices and are usually excluded from social safety nets, thus increasing their precarity. This vulnerability became dramatically visible during the global pandemic as temporary migrant workers were reported to be unemployed, unpaid, and at the mercy of their employers before having to return to their home countries. This project uses the case of Nepal to study the consequences of the large-scale return and reintegration of migrant workers to their home countries. Nepal as the fifth most remittance-dependent economy in the world, faced direct economic and social consequences due to the pandemic and this research aims to study those impacts.

This research builds on a pilot study developed by the Principle Investigator that comprised of 40 in-depth phone interviews with migrant workers who returned due to the pandemic. This Insight Development Grant project expands on the pilot research by following 150 Nepali migrant returnee households over a two-year period with four interviews. Semi-structured questions will be posed to the subjects related to their migration journeys, their past migration pathways, the circumstances surrounding their return and the future aspirations of the returnee migrants.

Interviews in progress


Insight Development Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

temporary labour migration, COVID-19, return, reintegration, Nepal