Nepal demographic experience is remarkable given that it has achieved significant declines in mortality rates, fertility rates and population growth rates at low levels of economic development. Given this, it has a finite window of opportunity to invest in children and reap benefits associated with a “demographic dividend” before becoming an aged society. Prioritizing investments in young children is critical for ensuring a healthy and productive workforce that can contribute fully to the economy and society. The time left to reap the benefits of this demographic window of opportunity is finite – to attain these gains it is essential for Nepal to invest in children now.
Nepal is at a crucial time in its development, as it undergoes significant demographic changes in the midst of a transition into a federal state. Over the last decades, Nepal experienced rapid declines in mortality and fertility rates, while improving life expectancy at a rapid pace. As today’s children grow up they will join the bulks of a growing workforce, creating the favorable conditions for Nepal to prosper and achieve its development goals.
Every child has the right to a fair chance in life regardless of the circumstances in which they are born, but child poverty continues to deny vulnerable children in Nepal an opportunity to a better future. Nepal has achieved sustained poverty reduction over the last decades, and yet children remain disproportionally affected by poverty and deprivation because of factors beyond their control like their poverty status, gender, location or ethnicity.
Interventions in the early years is crucial to ensuring that children grow up to their full potential and contribute fully to society and the economy. International evidence show that investments in health, education and social protection are essential to give disadvantaged children an opportunity to a better future for themselves, their families and communities.
It is also essential to ensure the current process of decentralization support the delivery of key services for children and resource allocations are equitable and support vulnerable children and their families. Only then, Nepal will be able to realize their vision for a truly inclusive and sustainable development for all children, leaving no one behind.