Supporting remote assignments in Nepal

Matching in-country Nepali national volunteers with remote Australian volunteers to support partner organisation goals

Nov 2021 - June 2023
A man and woman stand before a table filled with fresh vegetables.


With this project, we're exploring how national volunteers in Nepal might be included in program volunteering activities.

Taking inspiration from the Southern Africa Innovation Hub project, we developed an idea to include an in-country Nepali national volunteer into the existing remote volunteering framework.

In this project, an early-career Nepali national volunteer and remote Australian volunteer are working together with the Ilam Municipality in Nepal to build their tourism development plan. In testing this idea, we will better understand and predict barriers to remote assignments, and find out if there is value in this type of volunteering for an early-career Nepali professional.

Our objectives

  • Explore how including an in-country Nepali volunteer into the existing remote volunteering framework will impact the overall assignment.
  • Understand what values Nepali and Australian volunteers could gain from completing a co-volunteering assignment.
  • Learn what support must be available to volunteers and partners for the co-volunteering dynamic to be effective.

Our approach

This project moved from ‘idea’ to ‘live prototype’ quickly due to the circumstances. The in-country team was already actively working with a remote Australian volunteer who had previous experience in Nepal and had found a potential Nepali volunteer. In situations like this, sometimes the best approach to testing an idea is to jump straight in.

Both volunteers were engaged in a three-month assignment supporting Ilam Municipality to create their tourism development plan.

Through actively documenting and tracking the experiences of both volunteers and their partner organisation, the Innovation Hub learned more about:

  • adjustments that could be made to support volunteers
  • necessary preparations for all stakeholders
  • existing program systems and policies that enable or limit this type of volunteering

To date, one assignment has been completed with positive results. A second assignment is in preparation that will use the lessons learned.

What we learned

  • Setting clear expectations early on around roles and responsibilities is essential. These expectations should be re-visited regularly throughout the assignment to ensure clarity for each volunteer.
  • While remote volunteering opened opportunities for partner organisations in more physically remote locations to receive volunteers online, the addition of in-country national volunteers has helped overcome some of the language and cultural barriers that can be present in remote areas.
  • While national volunteers bridge language and cultural barriers, they should also be recognised for technical skills, abilities, and contributions beyond geographic and contextual knowledge.

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