Ending human trafficking in Nepal

USAID, Winrock International, UKaid Logos

Trafficking-in-Persons is a complex problem that requires multi-disciplinary solutions with many stakeholders. Nepal is a source, transit and destination country for illegal labor, sex and organ trafficking of adults and children.

Hamro Samman is a five-year program generously supported by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the British people through the United Kingdom’s UK Aid and implemented by Winrock International. It seeks to build the capacity of, and facilitate coordination among, the Government of Nepal (GON), civil society, and private sector to combat human trafficking in Nepal.

Migration is an important source of income and other benefits for Nepal and the families of migrant workers. Poverty, lack of opportunities at home and a demand for labor in urban areas in Nepal and outside the country are among the reasons for migration. Unfortunately, the legal process for labor migration is slow, bureaucratic, and expensive, encouraging poor communities to seek illegal or underground routes. Some migrants are trafficked or find themselves in exploitative and hazardous working conditions. Those who travel abroad without proper work visas, including women in the domestic work and entertainment industry, often face a multitude of complications when they return and are without legal recourse to claim compensation if they are exploited. In cities and along the highways of Nepal, the entertainment sector, which includes dance bars, dohori and cabin restaurants, and massage parlors, is growing as an informal sector with many businesses unregistered to avoid taxes and other forms of monitoring. Many of the workers in this sector do not know their rights and are expected, if not forced, to provide sexual services.

Many victims and survivors of trafficking lack the resources they need to help them recover. The program strengthens action across the three pillars outlined in the Palermo Protocol: protection, prevention, prosecution. The team works in partnership with the Government of Nepal, civil society organizations and the private sector.

The evidence base on the effectiveness of interventions to combat human trafficking in South Asia is weak. The lack of reliable data has made it harder for stakeholders to identify and implement effective solutions that sustainably address TIP. Therefore, IDS, Karen Snyder and our partners, aim to improve the knowledge base on TIP, identify what works in reducing human trafficking, and improving service delivery to trafficking survivors and people at risk of being trafficked. We work with and support Nepali researchers implementing 5 research projects, we provide technical training for Nepali researchers and technical advice to Hamro Samman’s partners. We use mixed-method techniques in research on victim identification and rescue and rehabilitation. Identification includes both authority based and authority led identification and victim led identification. These are complementary but fundamentally different; some victims can take several years to reflect on whether they see themselves as victims or as independent agents, or as people with agency in some areas and less in others. Rescue and rehabilitation will include involuntary and voluntary rescue. This recognises that some people are rescued against their will, due to the legal conflation of trafficking and sex work, and gendered norms about work and mobility.

This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people and British people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The contents of this webpage are the responsibility of Winrock International and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government or UK aid or the United Kingdom Government.

Key contacts

Project details

start date
22 June 2020
end date
31 March 2022


About this project



Recent work

Working Paper

Getting Work: The Role of Labour Intermediaries for Workers in Nepal and the International ‘Adult Entertainment Sector’

IDS Working Paper 580

This IDS Working Paper explores the role of labour intermediaries, their aspirations, and their perceptions about the benefits and costs of facilitating work in the ‘Adult Entertainment Sector’ (‘AES’) and other employment. Using a victim-centred participatory approach, we interviewed 33...

12 December 2022


Nepali Women at Risk from Misguided Anti-Trafficking Strategies

IDS Policy Briefings 206 and 207

There are burgeoning hospitality, entertainment, and wellness industries in Nepal. The label ‘Adult Entertainment Sector’, used in anti-trafficking efforts, has resulted in stigmatisation of the owners and, mainly female, workers of some businesses in these industries.

12 December 2022

Working Paper

Assessment of Outreach and Engagement with Prospective Migrants by the Agencies Recruiting Labourers for Foreign Employment

IDS Working Paper 571

This study was conducted to identify the gaps in policies and practices of labour recruitment in Nepal and assess the outreach and engagement of major formal labour intermediaries, private recruitment agencies and pre-departure orientation training centres, with migrant workers for providing...

Arjun Kharel & 4 others

26 May 2022

Working Paper

A Media Analysis of Changes in International Human Trafficking Routes from Nepal

IDS Working Paper 570

This study examined the media portrayal of different actors involved in human trafficking from Nepal to understand the reported changes in international routes of human trafficking from Nepal after 2015.

Arjun Kharel & 5 others

24 May 2022