Indigenous Affairs and Securities during Pandemic: The Discourse of Rights and Realities for Development

By: Biswash Chepang

Several studies claim that indigenous people are almost three times more likely to live in severe poverty and are more likely to suffer from infectious diseases as a result of negative outcomes.  Indigenous people are affected by all the dimensions; social, economic, livelihoods, health care, and other environmental aspects.

An individual with disabilities, old age groups belonging to the indigenous community faces greater inequalities and are particularly vulnerable to pandemics. Women within indigenous communities face a disproportionately high rate of poverty and are subjected to discrimination, domestic violence and several other multiple forms of discrimination. 

Three in five employees lost their jobs due to COVID-19 in Nepal. Several of them have had their salary cuts among the ones who are still employed in respective organizations. This has adversely affected the entire world in one or the other way pushing the economic growth rate to the furthest distance making it difficult to crawl back to normal state. Indigenous people are hard hit by all of these consequences leaving several indigenous youths unemployed. Hence this pandemic crisis is exacerbating underlying structural inequalities and pervasive discrimination.

The 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development of overall wellbeing, dignity, and cultural integrity and leaving no one behind requires a holistic and human rights based-approach to ensure rights of indigenous community as well. The universal declaration of human rights to access health care, access to information, participation, access to clean water and proper sanitation, food security does not necessarily fit in with the context in indigenous communities in Nepal. This pandemic has rather reinforced inequalities such as increased risk of food insecurity job loss, less earnings and failure to feed their families. 

  1. Discourse
    1. Right to access healthcare

Many Indigenous communities are already impacted by malnutrition, pre-existing conditions, and lack access to quality healthcare. COVID-19 presents a new threat to the health and survival of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples in nearly all countries fall into the most “vulnerable” health category. There is high potentiality for high mortality rate due to COVID-19 in indigenous  communities as they might have growup up with  mal or under-nutrition, poor access to sanitation, lack of clean water, and inadequate medical services.

Medical support and economic stimulus funding for indigenous communities can support communities and enable the community people to access the healthcare resources. In addition to this community Support can be extended to research on traditional medicinal herb and can even work on safeguarding traditional knowledge of healing plants and herbs and community self-care measures

  1. Right to participation and consultation

Participation of indigenous peoples in designing, implementing and evaluating measures is significant through out the support process. Failure to do so may lead to culturally inappropriate practices that may not confirm with indigenous peoples’ rights in international law, including with the requirement to seek their free, prior and informed consent. 

‘“I think most people suffer from psychological point of view. So counselling would be one of better way to support them specially old age single woman/ man. This could be done through broadcast comedy, inspirational and informative programmes in prime time through national channels.’’ Sharmila Shrestha

  1. Right to access information

Indigenous communities should have right to access information, without any discrimination, to all social and health services in a culturally appropriate manner. Information dissemination by involving indigenous youth in the dissemination of COVID-19 messages within the communities both in mainstream languages as well as in indigenous languages is immediate action for now. This can be done through visual, audio or written means through social media and radio broadcasts in local languages.

“Though there are different kinds of awareness materials the communities peoples are not aware about it. Hence there is need to aware community people through community radios in the community level through jingle and public service announcement. Leaflet brochures are necessary to aware the community and indigenous peoples” Raju Bikram Chamling

  1. Rights for livelihoods, territories, land and resources

Most of the Indigenous communities tend to depend on the jungle for day to day livelihood for themselves as well as for their livestocks. Forest dependency for fuels, fodders, yams are now blocked even during lockdown as forests are also now owned by the community. 

Almost all indigenous peoples have been depending on farming and agriculture. But now Agriculture production has also been affected by lockdown as there is no permission to move one to other places. So if the people do not get a chance to go to their farm land then it will face more hunger in coming days as this is the main season for farming.” Raju Bikram Chamling

  1. Right to access clean water and sanitation facilities

Indigenous communities have every right to access clean and safe drinking water along with appropriate sanitation facilities. The community depending on natural sources of water such as spring, pond, river and other similar sources may not have access to clean and safe drinking water during this rainy season. Hence Immediate actions that can support indigenous communities is by providing necessary items such as sanitizer, soap, water purifier, soap can be supported to the community people.

  1. Right to Food Security

As lockdowns continue to expand with no timeline, indigenous peoples who already face food insecurity as most of them depend on subsistence agriculture. This ultimately affects their livelihoods. Similarly, there has been a massive price hike in basic daily used commodities such as vegetables and other stuffs. Now this is a threat to food security for many communities. This increases food scarcity ultimately affecting the ones who are dependent farm to fork agriculture and do not have any other source for purchasing food materials. This food insecurity could exacerbate existing inequalities making it difficult for more vulnerable and marginalized people in the community. Hence there is an immediate need for Food banks in the local community where delivering basic food and water supplies for those who cannot afford it now that they have no work. Emergency cash aid can also be beneficial to the community during these difficult times.

  1. Recommendations 
    1. Economic and social recovery stimulus plans and policies
      Many indigenous peoples who worked on the informal economy have come to rely primarily on income from markets, handicrafts, seasonal work and tourism, which have also been impacted by COVID-19. People dependent on the informal economy are affected especially for families who are dependent on daily wages and lack access to well-paying jobs.
      There is immediate need for economic support by establishing post COVID-19 programmes that are specifically aimed at indigenous peoples that support indigenous peoples’ traditional livelihoods, their economies and sustain their communities
  1. Local level coordination and collaboration: navigate support system to try to receive much-needed assistance 
    The immediate action that can reach out to local level and to the remote part of Nepal is through collaboration, coordination with organizations working for indigenous communities in Nepal proper Support system is needed to be structured such as Economic support system, Family support system, Social support system based on how other countries are adapting to the system already. The roles and responsibilities of Government, Communities responsibilities, leaders within the community and the role of Educated members from the community needs to be clearly identified. These local organizations can play a significant role in role division to support vulnerable indigenous communities in Nepal.

Unlocking the Relationship between Entrepreneurship and Socioeconomic Integration: A study based on Nepali entrepreneurs in Lisbon, Portugal*

Unlocking the Relationship between Entrepreneurship and Socioeconomic Integration


This research project uses immigrant entrepreneur’s perspectives on how entrepreneurship has influenced or facilitated in integration processes in the host country. The study is based on Nepali immigrants engaged in entrepreneurship in Lisbon. A semi-structured interview was used to interpret the narratives of the conversation with the respondents, which is coded into themes using thematic analysis. Twelve Nepali entrepreneurs were interviewed who owned small or medium scale business ventures in Lisbon. Being Nepali as well as migrant here in Portugal, enabled the researcher to reflect, analyse and interpret insider perspective for the study which controls the possible limitations of understanding the social milieu of the respondents during the study process. The social capital theory was used to analyse immigration and entrepreneurship start-ups in the host country. As a whole, it has been found out that, the entrepreneurial ventures helps Nepali immigrants to integrate in the host societies by facilitating them in easy adjustment process from the period of arrival until they settle down. The implications of this research are useful for local authorities in the host country to further strengthen bonds between immigrants and host society through entrepreneurship. The social capital that is evident in the community can be a strength for authorities to support in establishing entrepreneurial ventures for Nepali immigrants.

Reflexivity and positionality in research: How important is it?  

When someone conducts research in foreign land, does his socio-economic background influence the research process and the findings?

IMG_20180512_203149.jpgResearch is a tedious, rigorous process where one needs to think from multi-dimensional perspective while studying the particular subject matter. Similarly, while contextualising insiders and outsider’s perspective in my research I found how it tends to influence the research in data collection process. This happened during my data collection process while I was trying to find out information from Nepali entrepreneurs in Lisbon, Portugal.

Introducing myself as a student from university in the field was surprise for respondents, as normally the Nepali citizens who have come here are either working in restaurants, agriculture fields, stores or self-start up business. The challenge could have aroused if the researcher is perceived as someone from line of beaucracy which would not give the accurate information from the respondents. Therefore, it was necessary to conduct a field visit meet people and then knowing each other would be the first step for the research. Hence, I was organizing meet ups, gatherings and birthday celebrations with classmates and other friends in their restaurants to create a friendly environment between us. This was a gateway to enter into the Nepali society living in Lisbon and broaden my network towards knowing each other. This enabled me to meet people and share the ideas for the research to be carried out in few months’ time.

The position of research will be dichotomous perspective one as being Nepali and another being migrants here in Portugal. Using Insiders perspective in assessing information from the respondents is one of the useful strategy for me as I am familiar with the each other’s culture. As Bonner & Tolhurst, (2002) says being insider can reduce many associated problems while researching in the real world in research practice. Using insiders perspective enabled the researcher to understand the context and background of the respondents which controls limitations in research. For instance, the misunderstanding and miscommunications between the culture will be minimized when they share the common ground (Dwyer & Buckle, 2009). Although, it is also possible that the researcher’s view might be clouded by assumption of similarity and personal experience (Dwyer & Buckle, 2009). The three advantages of carrying out research through insider perspectives 1) superior understanding of groups culture 2) ability to interact naturally with the group and members and 3) greater relational intimacy (Bonner & Tolhurst, 2002).

It is necessary to take Harkalau & Norwood (2005) concepts in to consideration which says the subject position is always dynamic and unstable. The respondents position here in this research project consists of specific ethnic group, Nepali nationality, member of organization back in Nepal, immigrants after arrival here in Portugal, entrepreneur and even the member of informal organization here in Portugal.

The two concepts through which researcher felt the influence in data collection process are one being Nepali and another belonging to indigenous ethnic group in Nepal. Both of these components ease the research process. Being Nepali, communicating in Nepali language became easy way to express what respondents wanted to say.

Based on researcher experience the respondents belonging to indigenous ethnic group back in Nepal tend to use those words which sounds more collective and created we feelings. The use of words in interview such as “we”, “you” and “us” determines the collective feelings how Nepali feels being abroad and working under business owned by others. The narratives show the sense of belonging to each other throughout the interview. Which later changed to “I” when the questions and discussions was about entrepreneurship. The use of word after business start-ups is guided by first person “I”.

The participants shared their experiences relating indigenous nationalities back in Nepal.  Having similar social background (both interviewer’s and interviewees’) created an attachment which made the participant to freely express their opinions, views and stories.  For instance, whenever they would illustrate an example of their experience they would relate with both of our ethnic groups from home country. Most of the answer from participants used the sentence structures like “As you also belong to an indigenous backward community.

However, it did not have any negative implications to the research process having similar socio-economic background, rather the respondents were more open and expressed the realities they were facing. This can also be an added advantage for the researcher in finding out the information that enables the participants more connected and express their feelings and opinions freely. It is probable that interviewer could have taken certain things for granted unknowingly due to same cultural background to the interviewees. But, the interview guide helped to remain focused.

The researcher tried to minimize the power differential between interviewee and interviewer during interview (Harkalau & Norwood, 2005) through gradual rapport build up and introducing the concept of research for study and not for any official documentations. Furthermore, the study conducted by immersing in the environment, with the respondents through experiential engagement, having direct contact with the respondents in their business space, and being physically present in the setting has enables the researcher to understand the holistic picture being insider in the research process (Ospina, 2004). These basic information plays vital role in ensuring that the information disclosed from the them are safe and secure which would not affect them in future.




MBA Nonprofit at King’s College, Nepal

The number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in Nepal has grown significantly since the 1990s due to a range of factors. There are more than 45,000 NGOs registered in Nepal between 1977 and 2018. Despite thousands of NGOs and significant amounts of foreign aid, Nepal remains one of the poorest countries in South Asia. 
King’s College has introduced MBA Nonprofit to bring forward an entrepreneurial and managerial approach to create, manage and grow sustainable high impact nonprofit in a broader socioeconomic context of Nepal.

MBA Nonprofit-1MBA Nonprofit-2

Student Diaspora stories – New theme in my blog

This section covers the personal reflection and experiences of a student studying in European countries. The images will be posted after consent of the ones who is in the picture. The general images of the environment and surroundings may not need any ethical considerations to share it in the blog.

The general contents and outlines of this portal will be

#Culture Shock

#How it feels staying  in shared house

#Social life limited in facebook

#Friendship mostly through clubbings/ partying

#Academic experiences and pressures

#Deadlines is a harsh word through out the studies

#Being Nepali -and seeing other Nepali


Melting pots at SINK !!!!

This is an image of my flat at Lisbon, Portugal where i had more than 7 friends at 1 house. These are the dishes, pans all the used utensils lying there in the sink for more than 3 to 4 days. This reflects each individuals habits f maintaining cleanliness. Where some may want to wash the dishes instantly after he uses it, whereas other may not was it until it really stinks (the whole kitchen). However i survived.

Neo liberilism and need of Critical social work

Social work is a profession which works for social change, social justice and human rights. The concept and practice of social work largely vary according to country and contexts. For example, social work in Nepal is mostly about voluntary work and helping people in relief works or emergency situations or from natural catastrophes. Moreover, the social work profession in Europe is the specialized profession which works human rights, social change and social justice.

However, the trend of social work is changing.  The same social work profession in initial 1990s and in the recent period is different. The resurgence of a 20th-century idea so -called Neoliberalism which strongly debates on the contemporary issues and needs of laissez fair and liberalization model. These process of neo-liberalization has significantly impacted social work.

Neoliberalism is a political ideology which aims to transform the welfare state and change social work by deregulation and corporate capital, which encourages privatization and marketization. Steve Rogowski, illustrates an example of neoliberalism in social work as reducing benefits to vulnerable, reducing social support. There was the case of welfare reform act 2012. These reductions have directly impacted the vulnerable people creating more inequalities in society making them more vulnerable.  The concept of neo liberalising in favour of trying to generate incentive of employment and abolishing welfare dependency has left the vulnerable people making them self -responsible and depend only on family, friends or charity. For example; food bank is an example of the recent impact of the emergence of this new ideology.

These process of liberalization has created a more authoritarian model which subjugates the social work profession demanding managerialism with bureaucracy. Social work practice is dominated by managers. They control social workers on what to do and how to do, also by controlling over resources and users.  This does not allow the social worker to maintain relational work.

These authoritarian stances are seen in social work with families, children particularly while safeguarding children. Social workers are forced into being a processor ot e-technicians which is inputting data on the computer.

Therefore there is significant need of critical and radical social workers to overthrow these  authoritarian, managerial and bureaucratic model of practising social work. Then only it would allow critical engagement with real issues that lies with the social injustices and growing inequality in the name of neo-liberalisation.

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