Introduction to the Center:

The Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS) presents the Center for Human Assets (CHA), dedicated to the advancement of human development. Our mission is rooted in the pursuit of expanding individuals' freedoms and opportunities, primarily through the lens of capabilities. Employing a human-centered research approach, CHA places a strong emphasis on methodological rigor, combining qualitative and quantitative methodologies to generate robust empirical evidence.

CHA recognizes intersectionality as a pivotal instrument for driving transformative change and fostering sustainable development. Our focal points revolve around fundamental elements of well-being and opportunity, including promoting longevity and health, facilitating access to education, and ensuring a decent standard of living. The objective of CHA is to serve as a dynamic learning institution, fostering the resilience of families and the empowerment of individuals.

Our work at CHA is centered around three core thematic areas:

  1. Education and Skills: Within the education sector, CHA concentrates its efforts on the development of essential skills, employability enhancement, and accountability. The specialized focus of this thematic area is on identifying key issues facing higher education, including the gaps that currently exist between graduates produced by the current institutions and the demands of the economy, and exploring innovative solutions.
  2. Health and Nutrition: In the realm of health, CHA delves into critical aspects such as dietary habits, nutrition, societal influences, and cultural dynamics.
  3. Social Protection: CHA's engagement in social protection revolves around key focal areas, notably, facilitating the reintegration of migrants into society and ensuring comprehensive family protection.

To achieve our vision of becoming a Center of Excellence in Education, CHA is built upon four foundational pillars:

  • Collaboration & Partnerships: CHA actively seeks collaborations and partnerships with like-minded institutions and organizations to create synergistic solutions.
  • Critical Thinking & Writing: We foster a culture of critical thinking and impactful written communication, ensuring our research and insights reach a wide audience.
  • Communication & Advocacy: CHA is committed to effective communication and advocacy efforts, disseminating our findings, and advocating for policies that promote human development.
  • Capacity Strengthening: At CHA, we recognize the importance of building capacity within our team and beyond, empowering individuals to drive meaningful change in the development sector.

In pursuit of our mission, IIDS Center for Human Assets is dedicated to advancing human development and contributing to a world where all individuals have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives and reach their full potential.

Major ongoing Projects, Events and Flagship Initiatives:

1. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Project: Strengthening Capacity, Reducing Poverty

This five-year action research and intervention program is designed by the Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS) to strengthen capacity of local government by focusing specifically on women and Dalit leaders (mayors and chairs) in the local government, as an entry point, to ultimately reduce the multidimensional poverty in Nepal.

Persistent and enduring gaps in gender and social inclusion in political representation is a global issue. In the context of South Asia, many research studies have been conducted to understand women’s political participation or lack thereof. Some of the commonly cited barriers for political engagement and progression of disadvantaged groups include politics of ‘money and muscle’, patronage network, patriarchal norms, and unequal power relations. Some key sociocultural and economic factors that influence the decisions of women or other disadvantaged and marginalized groups to enter and sustain at local level politics in Nepal are issues of trust, capacity, awareness, acceptance, opportunity, accessibility, and mobility.

In many cases, the Nepali society still does not trust women or persons of marginalized ethnicities such as Dalit, despite their proven skills and competencies in the roles and tasks that they are assigned. Likewise, their leadership roles, especially in politics, are often perceived through the patriarchal lens of tokenism whereby they are deemed less qualified than their counterparts to perform any role of leadership, and often seen merely as representatives that are in the position to ‘fill the quota’. The challenges and struggles that this social misconception poses to women and Dalit leaders in local level political leadership are difficult to overcome as it requires a change at the collective-mindset level so that they are equipped with capacities and systemic support to have a fair chance at performing and excelling as political leaders in Nepal for transformative change and development of the country. Therefore, the goal of this project is to strengthen the capacity of local level government in Nepal by targeting leaders from marginalized and vulnerable groups to further reduce multidimensional poverty for sustained impact and development.

2. Teachers’ Study in Nepal: Voices of Teachers

The objective of this study is to conduct comprehensive research that amplifies voices of teachers and address the challenges faced by teaching professionals in Nepal. The study aims to capture the voices of teachers, delve into their social realities, hopes, aspirations, and fears, and use this knowledge to develop effective frameworks and interventions that contribute to improving learning outcomes. By understanding the perspectives and experiences of teachers, the study seeks to inform the development of interventions and initiatives that enhance teacher effectiveness, motivation, and well-being. The study will encompass three major teacher-centric themes: training, incentives, and accountability.

This study anticipates the following outcomes that will provide valuable insights and policy recommendations that align with national priorities of Nepal in the education sector:

- Training Needs: A comprehensive understanding of the training needs of teachers in Nepal will be gained through this study. The findings will inform the development of a teacher training program that aligns with the perspectives and priorities of the teachers themselves.

The program will be tailored to address specific areas of improvement, enhancing the quality of education delivery, and ensuring teachers receive the support they require to excel in their roles.

- Alternative Incentive System: Recommendations will be provided for an alternative incentive system that effectively motivates and rewards teachers in Nepal. Drawing upon individual and group-based performance measures, these recommendations will ensure a fair and equitable recognition of teachers' efforts. By aligning incentives with the desired outcomes, the system will foster a culture of continuous improvement and boost teacher morale, ultimately benefiting students' learning outcomes.

- Accountability Measures: Insights into accountability measures for teachers in Nepal will be generated, with a focus on promoting collaborative and supportive professional environments while upholding ethical standards. The study will provide recommendations on striking the right balance between accountability and support, encouraging teachers to take ownership of their professional growth while receiving the necessary guidance and resources.

- Civic Education Integration: An important outcome of this study is to emphasize on the need to integrate civic and moral education into the curriculum, catering to both local and global issues. By infusing the curriculum with these values, students would develop a robust value system that addresses ethical considerations, whether rooted in religious systems or universal principles. This approach aims to prepare teachers to nurture responsible and empathetic individuals who engage actively in their communities while understanding diverse perspectives. Recommendations will focus on curriculum design and teaching methods that foster both academic growth and the development of socially conscious global citizens.

- Tailored Education Strategies: Another significant outcome is the exploration of tailored education strategies that encompass various learning needs and preferences. The study aims to investigate personalized teaching methods that enhance student engagement, understanding, and retention. By catering to individual learning styles, these strategies would contribute to improved learning outcomes across different demographics and abilities. The study will delve into innovative teaching approaches, differentiated instruction, and adaptive learning techniques. The recommendations will emphasize the importance of creating a dynamic and inclusive educational environment that supports each student's unique journey of academic and personal growth.


3. PU-IIDS Collaboration on Research, Skill Development, and Innovation

The collaboration between Pokhara University (PU) and Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS) aims to establish an innovative model that bridges the gap between policy think tanks and academia, contributing to the accelerated economic development and progress of Nepal. This partnership will focus on three key areas: research, skills training, and innovation. By leveraging the strengths of both organizations, the PU-IIDS Partnership seeks to promote leadership models that empower youth and reshape the narrative for a better future in Nepal.

The primary goal of the PU-IIDS Partnership is to foster leaders who actively engage in the economic development and progress of Nepal. The partnership aims to address the gaps between academia and policymaking, promote meaningful employability, and encourage disruptive innovation to align national development priorities. To carry out ambitious yet nationally relevant ideas and pilot initiatives, this collaboration would support each other to seek large endowments from both domestic and foreign philanthropies to independently carry out innovative initiatives and contribute to policymaking. Pushing forward its disruptive innovation strategy to influence and reshape the development discourse, IIDS is also ready to provide space for liaising support for PU's activities in Kathmandu when needed.

- The partnership aims to foster a collaborative working environment between academics and policymakers, facilitating the integration of academic research into policymaking processes. By repurposing academic papers into advocacy papers with policy recommendations, the partnership seeks to enhance the visibility and applicability of scholarly research. This approach will provide policymakers with evidence-based insights and academic data, aligning policy decisions with academic and scholarly priorities.

- To address the gap between academic training and market demands, the partnership will focus on providing students with market-oriented skills and training. The curriculum for IT and Business Management programs will be designed to include practical components and industry-relevant skills. By bridging the gaps between education and employment, the partnership aims to equip graduates with the necessary skills for meaningful and sustainable employability, supporting the economic development of Nepal and reducing underemployment and unemployment among youth.

- The partnership seeks to challenge the existing development discourse through disruptive innovation. By prioritizing data collection, analysis, and evidence-based policymaking, the partnership aims to generate fresh insights, innovative ideas, and high-quality evidence to align national development priorities. The goal is to reshape the development discourse and establish a culture of collaboration between NGOs, CSOs, and External Development Partners (EDPs) to ensure locally rooted and context-specific development priorities.

The IIDS-PU Partnership represents a unique collaboration between a think tank and an academic institution to accelerate socio-economic development and progress in Nepal. By fostering collaboration between academics and policymakers, promoting market-oriented skills training, and driving innovation, the partnership aims to empower youth, reshape the development discourse, and contribute to evidence-based policymaking.

4. Delivering for Nutrition (D4N) in South Asia: Equity and Inclusion Regional Conference

IIDS is a co-host for the Delivering for Nutrition (D4N) in South Asia: Equity and Inclusion Conference, hosted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), taking place in Kathmandu on November 1-2, 2023. The purpose of this conference is to synthesize relevant evidence and stimulate dialogue to inform and guide policy and program initiatives in South Asia for improving equitable access to and consumption of healthy diets. The conference seeks to shape discussions around crucial topics like health systems, safety nets, and food systems, which are key for achieving equitable nutrition outcomes in South Asia. Equity and inclusion cut across multiple topical areas related to nutrition; thus, we are inviting abstracts across five topical areas for this year’s conference: i. Agriculture, ii. Food environments, iii. Health systems, iv. Diets, and v. Social protection.

The format for this year’s conference will be online and consist of an in-person 2-day conference that will bring together regional and global stakeholders in Kathmandu, Nepal. National conference partners can host national dialogues following the main conference. This format is subject to change depending on the public health situation in the region.

Ensuring equity and inclusion in nutrition is crucial for promoting the health and wellbeing of all individuals, irrespective of socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, caste, age, migrant status, education, beliefs, and other characteristics. Despite its importance, inequities in nutrition persist in South Asia. Delivering for Nutrition 2023 will be the third regional conference on implementation research, and the sixth overall. This conference will bring together researchers, program implementers and policymakers working in and focusing on South Asia to deliberate innovative ways to transform diets and improve nutrition outcomes for all.

5. Study of Nepalese Diaspora's Demography in US

This study is intended to establish a baseline on the state of Nepali diaspora and identify potential opportunities for engagement of the diaspora community in the US to support Nepal’s vision for prosperity and development. Ultimately, the goal is to engage with the Nepali diaspora in the US more proactively, whereby this study will inform and support to build better dialogue and networking opportunities.

The main objective of the study is to understand the collective identity formation of the Nepali diaspora community in the US and its evolution over time and over generations, investigate the acculturation phenomenon of Nepalis in the US, and provide a deeper understanding of the aspirations, hopes, and fears throughout their evolving diasporic journey. To explore the aspirations and fears of Nepali diaspora, the qualitative research component of this study will investigate five major issues: 1) Desire to engage proactively with Nepalis community, 2) Individual competence, 3) Desire for return, 4) Areas and ways to contribute to homeland, and 5) Aspirations and hopes.

To strengthen its relationship with the Nepali diaspora in the US, the Embassy of Nepal in Washington DC is seeking to conduct a study that can portray a picture of the Nepali diaspora in the US and provide evidence which can be used to influence policy changes. The study is intended to explore opportunities and aspirations of Nepalese in the US to better engage in, invest in and contribute to Nepal’s development. It will identify sectors which are more attractive for Nepali diaspora to invest in, constraints and challenges in making such investments, and what policy changes would incentivize them to invest and transfer technology. The Embassy of Nepal to the US is conducting this study in partnership with The Asia Foundation (TAF) and the Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS).

Recently Completed Projects :

6. Technical Support on the Independent Evaluation of Girls Education Challenge (GEC) II Study 4 on Disability with Tetra Tech

The objective of this study is to understand in what ways GEC II projects have engaged girls with disabilities (GWDs) through their interventions, and the perceived and observed effects of these approaches on their outcomes (including learning and socio-emotional wellbeing) and on the engagement of GWDs with their peers, teachers/ educators, and caregivers/families. This project is a part of Phase II of the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) launched by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in 2012.

As a part of addressing the overarching issue of “How and why different approaches have delivered their intended (and unintended) outcomes, including improved literacy and numeracy, for different groups of marginalized girls in different contexts”, FCDO is conducting an independent evaluation of The Girls' Education Challenge Phase II, of which Study 4 focuses on Disability.

Under this partnership IIDS provided its technical expertise to ensure that the study is designed and implemented with quality and contextual sensitivity, is relevant to programmatic and policy decisions, is coordinated, as appropriate, with other relevant research efforts, and that study the findings are considered in future relevant programmatic and policy decisions. The project completed in April 2023.

7. Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report 2021/2: Non-State Actors in Education: Who Chooses? Who Loses? with UNESCO

UNESCO and the Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS) jointly launched the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) national report on the role of Non-State Actors in Education at IIDS on 20th November 2022. The purpose of this report launch event was to highlight the importance of the topic and discuss some key findings of the report with various stakeholders including development partners, government representatives from federal, provincial, and local levels, relevant thinktanks, academics and scholars, private sector associations as well as media groups. 

Non-state actors’ role extends beyond provision of schooling to interventions at various education levels and influence spheres. Alongside its review of progress towards SDG 4, including emerging evidence on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact, the 2021/2 GEM Report urges governments to see all institutions, students and teachers as part of a single system. UNESCO’s annual Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report began in 2002 as the Education for All Global Monitoring Report with the aim of holding the global community to account for the commitments they made to education progress. For over two decades, the report has informed national, regional and global debates.The report’s rallying call – Who chooses? Who loses? – invites policymakers to question relationships with non-state actors in terms of fundamental choices: between equity and freedom of choice; between encouraging initiative and setting standards; between groups of varying means and needs; between immediate commitments under SDG 4 and those to be progressively realized (e.g. post-secondary education); and between education and other social sectors.

8. The 10th South Asia Economic Policy Network Conference ‘Migration in South Asia’ with World Bank

Internal and international economic migration, largely temporary in nature, is a major factor in the lives of the poor in South Asia, helping millions of households improve their lives by enabling large remittance inflows and insurance from local shocks, and through the contribution of return migrants to local economies. The act of migration entails potentially high returns but also considerable risks and costs. It is undertaken in conditions of limited information, poor access to finance, and weak institutional safeguards. At the same time, there is great potential to reduce vulnerability and to maximize the benefits of migration for workers from South Asia. The lockdowns due to the COVID-19 crisis were a major shock to labour migration process in South Asia. Facing lockdowns, job loss and other difficulties in their host locations, many poor migrant workers were left stranded or returned earlier than planned.

Against this backdrop, the World Bank, the Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS) and the South Asia Economic Policy Network organized the “Migration in South Asia” conference on 7-8 November, 2022. The two days cover key themes of labour and migration with the objective of sought answers to the following questions. What are the causes and consequences of internal and international economic migration in South Asia? How has the COVID-19 crisis affected economic migration in South Asia and what will the post-COVID normal look like? How are economies responding to the challenges and opportunities of international migration in the future, such as the reintegration of returnees, and development of new corridors? What are the trade-offs in different migration-related policies, and how are governments choosing to manage these trade-offs? How have economies and communities been affected by forced displacement (including displacement due to climate shocks and conflict), and what have been the policy responses? What can policy makers do to make economic migration more productive and safer?