Social Overview

People gather in the chautari to watch a street drama

Ethnic composition

  • Despite the caste system being outlawed in Nepal, low-caste people still face discrimination in access to public goods, including in the distribution of relief materials (Dalit Civil Society Massive Earthquake Victim Support and Coordination Committee, 2015). 
  • Natural disasters affect victims indiscriminately, but an individual’s ability to recover is strongly shaped by systems of social and economic stratification. It has been found that low-caste, low-income groups are more likely to remain in makeshift shelters and face more difficulty in reconstruction (Asia Foundation, 2017). 
  • A longitudinal research (Asia Foundation, 2016) found marked differences in recovery between different castes in Nepal. One-and-a-half years after the earthquake, 82% of low-caste people said they had yet to start rebuilding, compared with 71% of high-caste people. 

Gender composition 

  • The female population in Dhungentar constitutes only 48.31% of the total, whereas the Nuwakot average is 52.1% and the national average is 51.5%. As highlighted in the Economic Overview, a sizeable segment of the female population is not engaged in income generation, and a considerable number of men are working away from the settlement. This represents a significant female workforce in Dhungentar that is yet untapped.
  • Pre-existing gender inequality means that women are more vulnerable during times of natural disasters.

Created with Highcharts 6.2.0Gender compositionMale: 256Male: 256Female: 229Female: 229MaleCount: 256
Created with Highcharts 6.2.0MaleChildren (<16 years)Children (<16 years)Adults (16 - 58 years)Adults (16 - 58 years)Elderly (>58 years)Elderly (>58 years)
Created with Highcharts 6.2.0FemaleChildren (<16 years)Children (<16 years)Adults (16 - 58 years)Adults (16 - 58 years)Elderly (>58 years)Elderly (>58 years)

House owners’ literacy rate

  • House owners’ literacy rate can indicate households’ financial status and determine decision making. In Dhungentar, the average annual income of households with literate house owners is almost two times that of households with illiterate house owners.  
  • Thirty-four house owners are completely illiterate (35.41%). The national average illiteracy rate is 31% (Central Bureau of Statistics, 2011). 
  • Only 53 house owners (55.2%) are classified as being able to perform at least basic reading and writing tasks. The national average for such literacy is around 66%.
  • Nine house owners (0.09%) are able to only read in Nepali. The national average is 3%.
Created with Highcharts 6.2.0House owners literacy rateIlliterateIlliterateCan read onlyCan read onlyCan read and writeCan read and write

House owner’s current residence

  • Only 19 of the 96 houses (19.79%) are owned by women; this exclusion of women from land ownership reflects the community’s patriarchal nature. It has been found that land ownership has a positive and significant impact on women’s empowerment in Nepal (Mishra & Sam, 2016). 
  • Of the 19 female house owners, two work outside the settlement. The rest reside in Dhungentar and are dependent on agriculture, daily wages, or are unemployed.  
  • However, in Nepal, land ownership does not always reflect empowerment. Women usually become household heads by compulsion (widows, separated women, migration of male household members for employment) (International Organization for Migration, 2016). In Dhungentar, 11 of the 19 female house owners are either widowed or separated. The husbands of five female house owners are currently working or used to work away from the settlement. 

Created with Highcharts 6.2.0House owners current residenceDhungentar: 68Dhungentar: 68Outside Nepal: 24Outside Nepal: 24Within Nepal: 4Within Nepal: 4Within NepalNo. of house owners: 4

Key Points
  • Marginalized/Dalit communities constitute almost 96% of the settlement.  
  • Literacy rate of house owners significantly below national average
  • 19.79% of houses owned by women, with 22 men (including house owners) employed away from the settlement and returning to Dhungentar after long intervals (up to 48 months)


A woman at her farm land in Archale
Children build a play house with construction materials in Dhand
Women gather in Dhand for a community meeting