«A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy Approved November 2014 by the Graduate ...»
Additional analysis on the transition from transitional energy sources to each modern energy source, such as electricity, gas, and kerosene, was done due to a different pattern of popularity of each energy source over time. Further, another analysis was performed on the opposite direction of energy transition, from modern energy sources to traditional energy sources, since a noticeable number of households experienced this direction of the transition. The results, though, are not much different from the results of the transition from traditional energy sources to modern ones.
In sum, the results show that rural households in the Chitwan valley juggle their resources to choose an appropriate energy source for them on the list of various energy resources in the changing socioeconomic and environmental conditions, and their choices can be understood better as a part of livelihood strategy.
Implications on Livelihood, Development, and Environment As de Haas (2010) points out in his theoretical review of the relationship between migration and development, the livelihood perspective and the new economics of labor migration emerged in the 1990s as a reaction to the contradictory empirical evidences from the migration optimism until 1973 and the migration pessimism in the 1970s and 1980s. The migration optimism is the view emphasizing the role of migration in bringing more income, redistributing wealth between the poor and the rich, creating jobs and
creates a virtuous circle of the interactions between migration and development. The migration pessimism, on the other hand, is the view emphasizing the role of migration in increasing the socioeconomic gap between the poor and the rich, causing brain and brawl drain, and eventually making economic conditions unhealthy in the sending communities.
As a result, it creates a vicious circle of the interactions between migration and development. Countless studies have been done to test both views, and empirical evidences are heterogeneous.
As opposed to the structural perspective of the migration optimism and pessimism putting the poor in passive and submissive roles, the livelihood perspective emphasizes active and leading roles of agents, especially those households with low socioeconomic status at the local level. As a result, the livelihood perspective has been in the center of the dialogue of rural development in developing countries (Scoones 2009). However, this perspective has a tendency to treat migration only as a result of livelihood diversification of rural households, and it has been criticized for that. Despite the criticism, the livelihood perspective has been popular in the study of the livelihood of rural households due to its advantage in empirical analysis and emphasis on agents rather than structure.
The Chitwan valley, the study site of this dissertation, is located in a rapidly developing region in an underdeveloped country, Nepal, and the region has been going through numerous developmental issues coupled with an urbanization process and a high volume of migration. Thus, the region is in ideal condition to test the livelihood perspective. I accept the livelihood perspective to explain agricultural and energy transitions at the household level, which is closely linked with the socioeconomic
migration as an exogenous factor to livelihood transitions, I tried to integrate migration in the process of two transitions, agricultural and energy transitions, which can be closely embodied in the discussion of rural development.
In general, empirical evidences from the analysis on the effects of migration and household capitals on agricultural and energy transitions in this dissertation support the argument by de Haas (2010) emphasizing “contextuality” of migration: migration is not an exogenous, but an integral part of social and development processes. In the context of Chitwan, at least, migration does not have a consistent one-directional effect on the transitions. Migration is rather integrated with what kinds of and how much capitals rural households own in the process of the transitions. Specifically, the results across the analysis indicate that available labor in a household, prior investment in agriculture, the degree in which a household is exposed to different values and ideas, and networks between people within a reachable range are very important factors deciding the future direction of the transitions. Understanding this contextuality of migration would be an important first step towards further development of the Chitwan valley.
It is obvious that Chitwan has been going through a certain level of transitions with the expansion of the non-farm sector coupled with an urbanization process in the last few decades, and households are trying to survive or get adjusted to the rapidly changing socioeconomic and environmental conditions. And it seems that migration, salary employment, or outside the home businesses are big parts of their adjustment as livelihood strategies. One of the conclusions from the results of the transition to the first salary employment and outside the home businesses was that rural households in Chitwan
or finding an opportunity in the non-farm sector. Thus, the development in these two ways of livelihood would be the key for the development of Chitwan in the coming years.
However, migration is still a very risky livelihood strategy, both domestic and international, in terms of the cost, working conditions in destinations, and employment stability (ODI 2014). And the non-farm sector is not yet established and unstable due to the weak overall economic structure of Nepal. Therefore, achieving further progresses in improving the migration processes, stabilizing banking systems and markets for agricultural products, or establishing a sustainable economic structure at the community level would be the upcoming and ultimate goals of the development plans of Chitwan.
Considering that improving the economic condition of Chitwan is not an easy task to be done in the short term, establishing transparent and safe migration processes, as suggested by the 2014 ODI report, should be the first goal for the development of the region.
It is not clear, but the analysis results might suggest other possible trajectories of livelihood diversification strategies. In detail, households with higher socioeconomic status might tend to move away from farming as the duration of migration increases, while households with lower socioeconomic status tend to stay in farming and intensify it.
If this pattern is true, it means that migration could increase the socioeconomic gap between the rich and the poor in the Chitwan valley unless the markets for agricultural products become bigger and more stable so that agricultural households could make enough and consistent profits out of it. In this case, the stabilization of markets for agricultural products would become a priority for the balanced development of the
twenty households in Chitwan, however, it seems that most households regardless of socioeconomic status still want to keep what they have been doing, agriculture, even on a small size of land as long as their resources allow it. It seems that there are some cultural meanings of agriculture, such as a sign of an inheritance of culture of their prior generations. In this sense, the transition out of farming might be considered to be “abandoning” traditional ways of living or new ways of living only for younger generations who do not care about the traditions. Subsequently, my observations and insights tell me that households with higher socioeconomic status would try to diversify their livelihood by finding an opportunity in the non-farm sector while they keep doing agricultural activities. And households with lower socioeconomic status might have to choose between finding an opportunity in the non-farm sector or in other regions, which would significantly decrease the available labor in a household, and subsequently, the situation might force them to choose to transition out of farming. This pattern would be also intensified as the average land price increases with the continuous socioeconomic development (Bilsborrow and Pamela 1990). In any case, for the constructive development of the Chitwan valley, it seems that establishing a healthy market conditions for agricultural products would be crucial for the livelihoods of many households in the coming years. And it would be very interesting to examine the patterns for new and young households and specifically for those households with low socioeconomic status for future research.
While we work on the socioeconomic development of the region, we also need to protect the rich environmental conditions of the Chitwan valley. Most importantly, we
went through the conflicts between development and environmental conservation. They have shown that we will pay a tremendous amount of social cost to recover from the damages done to our surrounding environment as a result of aimless and relentless development. Therefore, it is very important to be prepared at the current level of social and economic development of Chitwan.
The analysis results in this dissertation show that how rural households in Chitwan adjust to their surrounding socioeconomic and environmental changes would decide the direction of the future environmental conservation policies. It seems that the overall direction of livelihood transition in Chitwan is towards non-farming activities.
Despite, even in 2006, the main modes of production for most households is still agriculture. And it does not seem that farming households use a substantial amount of chemical fertilizer to increase crop productivity or compensate for the loss of labor in a household; or increase the number of poultry as a result of migration. Thus, as long as Chitwan remains as one of the agricultural nexuses of Nepal, it seems that proper regulations on agricultural activities, such as the use of chemical fertilizer and the use of land in the future, would be enough to conserve the current level of environment in Chitwan. In my opinion, the only concerns are over the large-scale poultry farming and cash crop farming, which are undergoing at a certain level even now with the potential of rapid growth in the near future. The growth of them will be closely linked with the growth of local and national markets in the near future. A close attention for those activities is required from the government.
remain as the main business of Chitwan. The size of the non-farm sector will grow with a successful socioeconomic development of the Chitwan valley. Under this scenario, the non-farming activities will become better alternatives to farming activities especially for young generations as they get more educated and used to western life styles through the media and migration. At this stage of the development, how to compromise their willingness to developing the non-farm sector of the region through tourism and construction of new facilities, for example, with environmental conservation would be the main issue in the future. As discussed, previous studies argue that the transition to non-farm activities would relieve the pressure on the surrounding environment through less dependence of households’ livelihoods on natural resources. In my opinion, however, these areas will not remain undeveloped in the coming years just for the sake of environment without any proper regulations and social agreements. Regulations are required at the government level for now, but a social agreement on balancing between development and environmental conservation would be the ultimate goal for the sustainability of the region.
In terms of energy expenditure, Chitwan is slowly moving towards more use of modern energy sources, such as electricity, gas, and kerosene. It seems that electricity and gas will eventually be the main two energy sources if a stable supply is guaranteed, which indicates the surge in energy demand in the near future. Further, an increasing number of households in the context of changing social values and norms on family will contribute to the rise in the demand for modern energy. Thus, stabilizing the energy supply would be the first task that should be done soon. However, the analysis results
households whose modes of production is agriculture are more likely to stay in the use of traditional energy sources, such as fuel wood, sawdust, and biomass than non-farming households, and indeed, most households in Chitwan are still involved in agriculture. It is probably due to an easier access to those energy sources for farming households than non-farming households. In addition, there might some cultural reasons to keep using traditional energy sources as discussed before. In sum, if the current ways of living sustain in Chitwan in the future, the environment of the Chitwan valley will depend on two dimensions: 1) achieving the balance between the use of natural resources and further development in the non-farm sector, and 2) achieving a social agreement on the balance between the conservation of the environment and the direction of economic development.
Suggestions for Future Research In this dissertation, I tried to examine various aspects of agricultural and energy transition with the focus on migration and household capital at the household level in the setting of Chitwan, Nepal. Due to data limitations, however, a few important aspects of migration and those transitions could not be explored further. Based on my insights and observations, I suggest four research plans that would shed light on the discussion of livelihood transitions and its environmental implications in developing countries.
First, the impact of international migration by destination countries would be interesting to explore further. In the context of Nepal, there is a significant difference between international migration to India and to other countries. An international