Where Have All the Young Men Gone?: Social Fragmentation during Rapid Neoliberal Development in Nepal's HimalayasPublished: 01 April 2014 by Society for Applied Anthropology in Human Organization
This paper describes the variety of obstacles that have hindered the success of a latrine program undertaken in Nepal’s Northwestern Humla District 2003-2013. The program has achieved modest success in some villages and has utterly failed in others. The project site is a selection of villages in Humla’s Karnali River Valley, populated by Buddhist ethnic Tibetans in the northern reaches and caste-observing Hindus to the south. The authors have been conducting research in the villages in this valley since 1995, initially on marriage and reproduction and more recently on the community development and hygiene and sanitation issues facing these householders. In this paper, the first and second order collective action problems associated with the latrine project and some ways to address them are presented. The paper draws upon the work of anthropologists and economists who have considered these types of problems across contexts, including in latrine projects elsewhere in the developing world.
Neoliberal development processes are increasingly pervasive across the globe, but they are incorporated unevenly into social systems at the micro-level with varying ramifications for the sustainability of social institutions. This paper investigates how kinship relates to ecology and exposure to development in two villages of Humla District, Nepal. A geospatial analysis using ArcGIS software, combined with ethnographic techniques, offers visual representation of socio-ecological information that could facilitate the application of social scientific knowledge to a variety of issues in sustainable community development. The findings we present suggest that increasing integration with a market economy and other outside influences exaggerated differences in social networks. Specifically, we found that those villages with more development activity had more dispersed households and fewer social resources at home. This was in part the trade-off for increased connections abroad and in cities around Nepal. We explore the potenital impacts of diffused social networks on long-term vulnerability. NGO staff working to maintain the sustainability of development's successes in the region will need to include the dynamics of local social networks in their analyses.