Child Poverty and Disparities in Nepal
Government, UN release two major reports, the vintage 20th edition of the Global Human Development Report, and a study on Child Poverty and Disparities in Nepal
Kathmandu, 4 November— The 20th anniversary edition of UNDP’s Human Development Report and the National Planning Commission/UNICEF report on Child Poverty and Disparities in Nepal were launched jointly by UNDP and UNICEF today.
The Human Development Report 2010 highlights that Nepal is one of the fastest movers in the Human Development Index (HDI) since 1970 and is 3rd among the ‘Top Ten Movers’ list in terms of progress in health and education. Between 1970 and 2010, Nepal’s HDI value increased from 0.210 to 0.428, an increase of 104 per cent, while Nepal’s Gross National Income per capita increased by 94 per cent during the same period. The gap between Nepal’s life expectancy and the global average has narrowed by 87 percent over the past 40 years.
Nepal’s impressive progress in health and education can be traced to major public policy efforts such as the ‘Free primary education for all children’ legislation as far back as 1971 and the extension of primary healthcare through community participation, local mobilization of resources and decentralization. However, economic growth has been modest and a lack of employment opportunities has led many Nepalese to seek opportunities abroad. Nepal is still a poor country with an HDI value for 2010 of 0.428—keeping the country in the ‘Low Human Development’ category—ranking 138 out of 169 countries and territories listed.
Continuing and multifaceted inequity remains a major reason for Nepal’s low HDI position. According to the Human Development Report 2010, large disparities remain between boys and girls in school attendance as well as in the quality of education between urban and rural areas and across ethnic groups. Major health challenges remain, related to communicable diseases and malnutrition. Large disparities separate regions and groups, with a quasi-feudal oligarchic system and caste based discriminations continuing to marginalize some.
UNDP Country Director, Ms. Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau stated, “Nepal needs to learn from its own successes in health and education and apply the same determination to tackle the areas in which it is still lagging behind. Addressing inequalities across gender, regions, groups remains a priority to ensure that no Nepali child, women, youth or person living in remote areas or from any particular groups is left behind, and also to ensure every Nepali can enjoy his or her fundamental rights and can actively participate in moving Nepal out of the Low Human Development Category.”
Considerable inequalities are also seen in terms of the Gender Inequality Index. Only 18 per cent of adult women have a secondary or higher level of education compared to 40 per cent of their male counterparts, fewer women work have paid work and for every 100,000 live births, still 281 women die from pregnancy-related causes.
But children are seen to be the most affected by poverty and inequity and remain disproportionately poor according to the NPC/UNICEF report on Child Poverty and Disparities. Indicators on malnutrition and sanitation are particularly noticeable.
“Malnutrition is a real obstacle to the survival, growth and development of children,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative, “and the serious effects of under-nutrition at a young age can be irreversible, and can ultimately hinder the development status of the whole nation.” Every second child aged under-five (49%) in Nepal is stunted or has a low height for their age – a result of chronic under-nutrition.
Over half of Nepal’s children (55.7%) defecate in open spaces. Recent calculations by WHO estimates that about 13,000 children aged under-five years die each year in Nepal from diarrhoeal diseases and a further 13,000 from Acute Respiratory Infections. This mortality is caused by and aggravated by poor sanitation, inadequate personal hygiene and a lack of access to quality water.
This year’s HDR has introduced a new indicator, the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which identifies multiple deprivations in the same households in education, health and standard of living. The MPI implies that individuals living above the income poverty line may still suffer deprivations in education, health and other living conditions (from basic living standards to access to schooling, clean water and health care). According to the report, South Asia is home to the largest population suffering from extreme poverty as measured by the new Multidimensional Poverty Index: 844 million people. In Nepal 65 per cent of the population suffer multiple deprivations while an additional 16 per cent are vulnerable to multiple deprivations.
Despite these concerns, the HDR 40 year retrospective assessment in key components of human development reveals that in some basic respects the world is a much better place than it was in 1990 or 1970. Overall, people are healthier, more educated, and wealthier and have more power to appoint and hold their leaders accountable than before. This should become an encouragement for countries to actively and urgently take the required extra steps to reach the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.
The ceremony was attended by the Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission, Dr. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel; UNDP Country Director, Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau: and UNICEF Deputy-Representative Will Parks.
For more information on the Global Human Development Report, please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org, Development Communications Officer, UNDP Nepal, Tel: 5523200 ext. 1077
For more information on the Child Poverty and Disparities Report, please contact:
email@example.com, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Nepal, Tel: 5523200 ext. 1182