Youth Education in Nepal
Nepal is a landlocked country located in South Asia. Much of the country’s population of 29 million lives in rural and distant places, making it difficult for youth education in Nepal to be reachable for the entirety of the country. Successful steps have been made in improving youth educational development through various nonprofit organizations and government programs.

Nepal in Numbers

Nepal is one of the least developed countries in Asia, ranking at 149th place out of 189 countries by the 2017 U.N. Human Development Index. According to the Asian Development Bank, about 25 percent of the population was living on less than $1 per day in 2011.

Nepal has many rural and distant communities that do not have a solid educational system. About 83 percent of the population lives in rural areas and 14 percent of the population is characterized as living in remote areas. Data from 2006 show that 76 percent of the Terai Dalits, 62 percent of Muslims and 45 percent of the Hill ethnic group did not attend school.

Despite the situation not being so good currently, it is safe to say that Nepal has seen a great improvement in education rates in the last few decades. The number of students enrolled in primary schools grew from 400,000 in 1971 to 3.9 million in 2001. Secondary school admittance increased from 120,000 in 1971 to 1.5 million in 2001, and the literacy rates improved drastically, from 20.6 percent of the population in 1981 to 64.7 percent in 2015.

Government expenditure for education was at 16.1 percent of the country’s budget in 2014-2015. Meanwhile, parents are spending close to 50 percent of their households budgets on the education of their children. In 2004, only 6 percent of the educational budget was used for higher education.

My Education…My Hope

Reach Out to Asia (ROTA), Qatar’s leading nonprofit education development system launched the “My Education…My Hope” fundraising campaign in 2014, with the goal of providing educational resources to vulnerable children in Palestine, Yemen, Pakistan, Nepal and Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The program implemented in Nepal will focus on providing resources to rural communities who desperately need the support. It is estimated that 50,000 Nepalese children will benefit from this project by improving the quality of youth education in Nepal and educational facilities, as well as by creating innovative educational solutions.

The Earthquake Consequences on Education

In April 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, causing serious damage to the country’s infrastructure. It was estimated that over 8,000 schools were damaged. This had huge consequences on youth education. Even before the earthquake struck, attendance in primary schools in Nepal, according to UNICEF, was 96.2 percent for males and 91.4 percent for females. This natural disaster made it even harder for kids to attend schools.

In response to these issues, the government set up 8,000 Transitional Learning Centres, and another 4,000 were set up by different nonprofit organizations. The Asian Development Bank has pledged over $110 million and the Japan International Cooperation Agency has pledged $112 million for reconstruction of schools in Nepal in the near future.

National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) help start the School Earthquake Safety Program (SESP), with the initiative of making schools more earthquake safe, as well as educating families on earthquake safety. The program has completely reconstructed close to 300 schools to better withstand earthquake activity. Since schools are oftentimes used as community shelters during emergencies, ensuring the safety of these institutions is important for the children, but for the adults as well.

Youth education in Nepal has improved in all aspects during the last few decades, thanks to the joint effort of the government and various nonprofit organizations. While there is still work to be done in educating people in rural areas, nonprofits have been instrumental in giving resources to schools to protect them from natural disasters, ensuring the continuous and safe education.

– Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Nepal
Nepal, located in the Himalayas and parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, boasts eight of the world’s 10 highest peaks, ancient golden temples and a very rich history. However, this South Asian country also suffers from high rates of poverty, and as a consequence, hunger. Malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world. In the text below, the top 10 facts about hunger in Nepal are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Nepal

  1. One in four people in Nepal lives below the national poverty line that is just 50 cents per day. People that live under the poverty line do not have enough money to meet their basic needs like food, clothing and shelter.
  2. Those who live in mountainous, more rural areas are the most likely to suffer from poverty and hunger that affects the country.
  3. The 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI) found that 7.8 percent of Nepal’s population was undernourished. Nepal is ranked 72 out of 118 countries in the GHI, and the report rates Nepal’s hunger at 21.9, which falls into the category of serious. However, these numbers are lower than they have been in past years since 2000, GHI ranked Nepal’s hunger at 43.1.
  4. Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) which is Zero Hunger, is a very important goal for the country. The prevalence of malnutrition among children under the age of 5 was 9.7 percent in 2016.
  5. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), stunting is defined as “the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.” Children can be viewed as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median. More than 35 percent of children under the age of 5 in Nepal are stunted, according to the research done in accordance with SDG. 
  6. Agriculture provides work to 68 percent of Nepal’s population and accounts for 34 percent of the country’s GDP, yet food is in low supply for Nepali citizens.
  7. Nepalese children who are stunted suffer from a variety of severe mental and health issues, especially in the first 1,000 days of their lives. These issues can reflect on their adult life, specifically on poor cognition, nutritional issues and even low wages.
  8. Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative have been very successful in its work in Nepal. Since 2011, there has been a 24 percent increase in the prevalence of children younger than the age of 2 receiving a minimum acceptable diet.
  9. The government and the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) introduced the Zero Hunger Challenge in 2014, with the goal of eradicating all hunger issues in Nepal by 2025.
  10. The Zero Hunger Challenge consists of five goals:
    • All food systems are sustainable: from production to consumption.
    • An end to rural poverty. Double small-scale producer incomes and productivity.
    • Adapt all food systems to eliminate loss or waste of food.
    • Access adequate food and healthy diets, for all people, all year round.
    • An end to malnutrition in all its forms.

Many experts that the above-mentioned goals of Zero Hunger Challenge are unlikely to be met by 2025.

These top 10 facts about hunger in Nepal presented in the text above illustrate that the country has made a lot of progress in its goals to eliminate hunger, but it still has a long way to go. The joint efforts of the government and nongovernmental organizations can certainly be the key to eradicating poverty and improving the economic situation in the country.

– Evann Orleck-Jetter
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Nepal
The world’s tallest mountains and most remote areas exist in Nepal, a landlocked country caught between India and China. As a new democracy, Nepal is still trying to become a stable nation after years of war and environmental catastrophe. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Nepal:

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Nepal

  1. Nepal is a country of almost 30 million people, more than 3 million of whom live below the poverty line. Almost 80 percent of Nepal’s population live in rural areas, and 75 percent of Nepal’s population works in the agrarian sector.
  2. Due to lack of funding throughout the country, internet access, adequate roads, electricity, safe infrastructure, ATMs and adequate healthcare are all hard to find in Nepal. Nepal does have great hydropower potential, and new partnerships with China should help to create jobs and stabilize Nepal’s energy access.
  3. Nepal is currently trying to rebuild after two earthquakes within a month of each other decimated the infrastructure and killed 9,000 people in 2015. Problems were compounded in 2017 by extreme flooding during the monsoon season
  4. Shortly after the catastrophic earthquakes of 2015, Nepal suffered economically due to an Indian-enforced blockade at the border between the two countries. Nepal is heavily dependent on India as its biggest trade partner. The blockades lasted more than four months, dropping more than 30 percent of Nepal’s imports and exports during the chaotic months following the earthquakes.
  5. Nepal faced a civil war that lasted from the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s, causing great administrative turmoil and resulting in crimes against humanity. Almost 17,000 people died in the bloody conflict. The civil war came about as communists railed against the Nepalese Monarchy, which transitioned multiple times in and out of absolutism and constitutionalism until it was abolished in 2007. Hopefully, stability is on the horizon after the ratification of a new constitution finally took place in 2015.
  6. Local elections in 2017 were the first in twenty years. BBC reported many at the ballot boxes hoping that these elections were the beginning of a new era in Nepal’s government and would lead to a crackdown on corruption.
  7. There is still a lot of progress to be made for women’s rights in Nepal. Almost 40 percent of Nepalese girls are married before they are 18 years old. Fewer than 50 percent of Nepalese women are literate while more than 70 percent of Nepalese men are literate. The Nepalese government is taking steps to end gender inequality, though. In March 2016, Nepal launched a Girl Summit aimed at ending child marriage, and the new Nepalese government has a reserved number of seats specifically for women.
  8. Although the Nepalese government has been plagued by turnover, administrative turmoil and mired in corruption, more than 300 different nongovernmental organizations are on the ground making efforts to rebuild Nepalese homes and infrastructure and improve Nepalese lives. The U.S. has also ended the Temporary Protected Status originally issued to the Nepalese who were in The U.S. during the 2015 earthquakes, meaning The U.S. government believes the country has recovered enough to be safe and stable enough for Nepalese to return.
  9. Many young Nepalese men emigrate to The Persian Gulf to find work because the agrarian economy cannot support the Nepalese population. Men who do emigrate for work are investing in their children’s education. They’re being exposed to new ways of life and bringing 25 percent of Nepal’s gross domestic product from abroad officially; although, unofficially, it could be as much as 40 percent. This influx of foreign money is being used to build solid homes and purchase goods that help rural Nepalese have a better understanding of the world at large, such as radios and TVs. Nepal has passed legislation stating foreign countries that wish to employ Nepalese workers must pay for their visas and travel costs in order to keep Nepalese workers from falling into crippling debt at the hands of third-party recruiting and employment agencies. It is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to ensure the safety of Nepalese citizens when working abroad.
  10. The tourism industry is starting to bounce back after movies like Everest (2015), Free Solo (2018) and Dawn Wall (2018) have all shone a romantic light on the world of climbing and mountaineering. Historic Nepalese treks like the Annapurna circuit are becoming more and more accessible to the outside world. More than 5,000 tourists trekked the Annapurna circuit in 2015, and the numbers have only risen since.

As Nepal moves forward, the government will need to address the issues listed in the top 10 facts about living conditions in Nepal as well as many other problems that are born out of extreme poverty. With a new government at the helm and with international aid, Nepal has the chance to continue to make progress and become a thriving economy.

– Laura Landrum
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls' Education in NepalNepal is one of nine Asian countries carrying the status of “least developed.” Any instability the country faced was intensified by the 2015 earthquake that killed over 6,000 people. One of the sectors tied to country’s much-needed development is, of course, education. To get a sense of the status of the education system in the country, in the text below the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Nepal are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Nepal

  1. In 2015, 48.05 percent of women older than 15 did not have any form of education. Of the total population aged 15 and older, 36.15 percent did not have any education. This rate increases with age as 91.61 percent of women in the age group from 60 to 64 did not have any form of education.
  2. Gender-separate bathrooms are only available in one-third of schools in Nepal. This deters some from attending school over concerns of modesty or, sometimes, inability to follow religious guidelines that require separation of toilets.
  3. A project conducted in recent years found that 72 percent of students in Nepal saw their peers involved in gender-related violent situations though only 55 percent took action against it. Thus, schools cannot be considered a safe space for female students.
  4. Forty-one percent of Nepali women between ages 20 and 24 are married before the age of 18. Child marriage is most prevalent among less educated, poor women. Improving female education may improve the childhood marriage rate.
  5. The practice of chhaupadi often prevents women from attending school. Chhaupadi involves the banishing of girls who are menstruating to sheds where they are forced to suffer alone and risk catching illnesses. This dangerous practice, which was legally banned in 2005, still persists.
  6. Only about 11.8 percent of Dalit (lowest caste in Nepal) women are in secondary school. This indicates that education is both an issue of gender and class division.
  7. In Nepal, 44 percent of primary school teachers are female. This is the most encouraging fact about girls’ education in the country since this suggests that there is something near gender equality in teaching professions. This fact may be encouraging to young school girls.
  8. Only about 25 percent of women in Nepal enroll in higher education and their presence is particularly weak in technical and vocational education programs. Instead, there are large numbers of women in, for example, health-related professions such as nursing. In other words, professions are somewhat gender-segregated in the country.
  9. Though the quality of education in Nepal is not high, school enrollment rates are increasing across genders. Since 1990, the primary school enrollment rate has increased from 64 to 96 percent. Nepal is working to improve its education system by providing wider access to education.
  10. The Government of Nepal has developed the School Sector Development Plan (SSDP) that will last from 2016 to 2023. This plan is part of the country’s goal of graduating from the status of a least developed country by the year 2022. The plan will look to instigate growth in the Nepali education program and ensure quality education for all citizens.

In recent years, Nepal has faced great hardship. After the 2015 earthquake, the country faced the unwieldy challenge of rebuilding much of its infrastructure, including education facilities. Organizations like USAID supported this effort by helping the government establish temporary learning centers across the country.

Though Nepal faces great challenges, many are encouraged by some of the country’s efforts toward bettering its education system and promoting gender equity.

These 10 facts about girls’ education in Nepal suggest that though the country has a long way to go before being considered as well-developed, progress is being made in the education sector.

– Julia Bloechl

Photo: Flickr

After 20 years of battling trachoma, Nepal eliminated the disease as a public health issue, becoming the 6th country in the world to do so. This success was not the result of a new cure or vaccine, rather public health education and community health volunteers who reached impoverished areas that lack access to immediate health care services.

The Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHV), a network of over 50,000 female public health volunteers, played a significant role in the diagnosis and treatment of trachoma in Nepal, specifically in impoverished areas, strengthening the country’s response for this endemic. The nature of the program contrasts the clear disparities in gender equality present in Nepal, slowly mending public health access and education in parallel to gender inequality in South Asia’s poorest country.

What is the FCHV

FCHV is a network of female volunteers focused primarily on providing maternal and child health care services in impoverished areas of Nepal. The program was initiated in 1988 by Nepal’s first female health minister and originally was assigned to distribute and promote family planning commodities and education in an effort to decrease the country’s infant mortality rate.

As the program evolved, FCHV began encompassing other aspects of public health intervention, including vaccination, testing children for malnutrition and pneumonia, diagnosing infectious diseases and linking communities to health workers and facilities.

The program is now comprised of over 52,000 active volunteers, approximately one in 500 people, or one per ward designated by the Village Development Committee (a local administrative body). FCHV’s live in the wards they serve and must be married, according to the program’s guidelines. They are selected by local groups of women active in health activities, after which they receive 18 days of training on topics they will oversee as volunteers.

The program has been revised four times since its inception, defining its responsibility towards local governments and adding curative services and predefined health programs. FCHV receives the majority of its funding from two primary donor agencies, USAID and UNICEF, supplementing funding for education and training materials. Nepal’s government provides salary funds and materials for distribution, such as drugs, vitamins and vaccines.

FCHV, Nepal and Gender Inequality

The FCHV also provides new opportunities for impoverished women who otherwise wouldn’t be presented with a variety of occupational options. Approximately half of Nepal’s female population is literate which represents a very low number. Approximately 17 percent of Nepalese women have some secondary education, and nearly 75 percent of Nepal’s unpaid family labor force is female. A large portion of economically active Nepalese women has little to no access to economic resources.

Nepalese women and girls are often disadvantaged by practices such as early marriage and son-preference, seclusion of women, polygamy, segregation of women and girls during menstruation and stigmatization of widows. Nearly half of Nepal’s female population marries between the ages of 14 and 19.

By enabling women to become involved in their communities, FCHV sets an example for the future, leveling the playing field by educating women in health care, a universally distinguished and necessary occupational field. Education breeds empowerment and lifts people out of poverty.

FCHV’s Impact on Public Health in Nepal: Trachoma

FCHV maintains the national goal of health through public involvement, imparting knowledge regarding health-related issues through local institutions and populations while simultaneously empowering women. Its success in aiding the elimination of trachoma in Nepal is a testament to the program’s importance.

A 1981 health survey discovered that approximately 1 percent of all Nepalis were blind and cataracts and trachoma were the two main causes of this problem.

Trachoma is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. In rural areas, this bacteria is commonly spread by flies crawling on children’s faces. People are usually infected as young children, however, the permanent eye damage caused by trachoma typically sets in decades later. Trachoma prevalence rates among preschool-aged children exceed 60 percent. This risk is compounded by environmental factors including poor hygiene, water shortages and inadequate sanitation facilities. Eye damage and blindness caused by trachoma are irreversible.

Trachoma also places a substantial economic burden on affected individuals and communities since the economic cost of lost productivity is estimated at up to $5.3 billion annually. Controlling the disease releases huge portions of Nepal’s population from the financial strain of trachoma, providing them with more disposable income and monetary influence.

Although elimination as a public health issue does not refer to the complete elimination of the bacteria (elimination as a public health problem insinuates that fewer than 1 in 1,000 adults have vision loss and less than 5 percent of a country’s children display symptoms), the elimination of trachoma in Nepal paves the way for the country’s future medical endeavors.

The FCHV will continue to shape the way Nepal institutes public health initiatives, empowering and educating women in the process.

– Katherine Anastas
Photo: Flickr

Five Initiatives Focused on Reducing the Child Mortality Rate in Nepal
Reducing the child mortality rate in Nepal has been a top priority for the past several decades. In 1967, there were 285 deaths per 1,000 births that has decreased immensely to only 34 deaths per 1,000 births. The government of Nepal has taken significant steps towards decreasing child mortality in their country. 

National Vitamin A Program

In the 1990s, 2 to 8 percent of preschool-aged children had xerophthalmia or an extreme vitamin A deficiency. To combat this, the government of Nepal implemented the National Vitamin A program or NVAP.

This program delivered two rounds of Vitamin A a year to children in priority districts of the country that had a Vitamin A deficiency. From the years 1995 to 2000, this program decreased child mortality by 50 percent.

Chlorhexidine Program

In 2009, the government of Nepal (with USAID) implemented a chlorhexidine program in their country. The government advocated for this program and set it into the daily lives of many throughout the country.

Ever since this decision, the organization has trained healthcare workers and procured chlorhexidine tubes with the help of the Chlorhexidine Working Group. This program is estimated to have saved 9,600 infant lives since it began and will continue to help decrease child mortality in the country.

The Female Community Health Volunteer Program

This program was started in Nepal in the late 1980s to increase the outreach of health practices through volunteer workers. One of the main goals of this program is to decrease the under-5 mortality rate in Nepal.

The Female Community Health Volunteer Program aims to promote the use of certain health practices and educated on preventative health practices. The work done by the volunteers in this program has greatly decreased child mortality rate in Nepal.

Zinc Implementation

In 2005, USAID was requested by the Ministry of Health and Population to help integrate zinc into the government’s diarrhea management program. Their work has contributed to a 16 percent increase in zinc use in the country in only 3 years.

Zinc supplements can reduce the time of persistent diarrhea by around 25 percent. Diarrhea is one of the leading causes of child mortality in Nepal, with 12 percent of children five and younger experiencing the condition. Zinc supplements have decreased child mortality rate in Nepal.  

Skilled Birth Attendance

Skilled birth attendance has become more prevalent throughout the country in health facilities and birthing centers; in fact, about 65 percent of deliveries in Nepal are now assisted by SBAs.

Making this care so available to women giving birth has been an incentive for females to go in for check-ups and discuss the possible complications that could occur during delivery. These conversations have not only had a positive effect on decreasing maternal deaths, but they have also decreased child mortality in the country.   

Although addressing the child mortality rate in Nepal is still a work in progress, the government has made great strides towards combating such a horrible phenomenon. The implementation of each of these programs has saved many lives in Nepal and will continue to do so.

– Ronni Winter
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in NepalOf the people living in Nepal, 25 percent are living below the poverty line, having just U.S. 50 cents per day. This makes Nepal one of the poorest countries in the world. Rates of disease, malnutrition and child mortality are high. Fortunately, Nepal has experienced slight economic growth in the past few years. Here are 10 facts about poverty in Nepal:

  1. Nepal has experienced over 70 civil wars since 1945. This has led to around 20 million deaths and over 65 million people displaced. The most recent war ended in 2006. Conflict within a country is influencing heavily on poverty rates, as it limits resources, healthcare and the possibility of a healthy job market.
  2. Around 5 million people in Nepal are undernourished. This is in part caused by high food prices and limited access in rural areas to farming. High prices of food make it unaffordable for people in poverty which drives hunger.
  3. Nepal has been the victim of numerous natural disasters. With an already struggling economy and low political stability level, earthquakes in Nepal are another factor of the country’s instability. People lose their homes and their jobs and are forced to find other ways to make a living. Women often become more vulnerable to trafficking in the post-natural disaster.
  4. Nepal’s government is known for being corrupt. The country was ranked third most corrupt country in South Asia. Abuse of authority leads to a biased economic system and unfair distribution of resources, perpetuating the issue of poverty in Nepal.
  5. Poverty in Nepal contributes to high child mortality rates. In 2016, for every 1,000 children born in Nepal, 35 died before their fifth birthday. This can be attributed to lack of health care and education access in impoverished regions, and there are many such regions in Nepal.
  6. The geography of Nepal influences the country’s ability to mitigate poverty. Nepal is a landlocked and mountainous region, which makes development and transportation of resources difficult.
  7. A lack of advanced farming methods makes it hard for progress against poverty in Nepal to be made. Over 85 percent of the people in Nepal rely on agriculture as the main form of sustenance. However, outdated methods are slowing the farming pace. The Government of Nepal has also not provided proper infrastructure to farmers.
  8. Unemployment and underemployment significantly contribute to poverty rates in Nepal. In 2016, the unemployment rate was around 3.4 percent. Lack of well-paying jobs is a major contributor to poverty.
  9. Surging housing prices have made it difficult for the impoverished people of Nepal to afford a house. Up to 10 percent of urban inhabitants are squatters. Rates of rural-urban migration have also soared in recent years, further pushing up the price of houses in cities.
  10. There are many non-profit organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, that are working to help the people of Nepal. Habitat for Humanity has specifically focused on the last mentioned problem- housing crisis in Nepal. Working together with their partners, they are building 2.3 houses per hour. Thanks to organizations like this, communities in Nepal can become empowered and gain a better quality of life.

Nepal is lagging behind even undeveloped world when it comes to poverty. However, not all hope is lost. Efforts of volunteers and non-profit organizations have the potential to make a big difference, especially regarding the recent economic upturn. These 10 facts about poverty in Nepal highlight the various issues that contribute to the problem and the impact that they have on the country.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Unsplash

Girls’ Education in NepalImportant steps are underway towards improving Nepal’s education system for girls, which may help raise Nepal towards becoming a developed nation. Thanks in part to assistance from the United States and United Nations, improving girls’ education in Nepal is now a focus of the Nepali government and educators.

Girls’ Education in Nepal

With only 64 percent of the Nepali people age 15 or older able to read and write, Nepal has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Approximately 76 percent of Nepali men are literate, while only around 53 percent of Nepali women are literate.

While educators are careful to not exclude boys in educational improvements, a special focus on academic improvements for girls is being implemented to increase the relatively low literacy rate among girls and equalize opportunities between boys and girls.

WiSTEM’s Promotion of Equality

Binita Shrestha and Pratiksha Pandey, co-founders of Women in Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (WiSTEM), work with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to improve girls’ education in Nepal.

Shrestha explains, “Even though we target girls, we welcome everyone because even boys are not receiving STEM education… The biggest reason most children don’t pursue a STEM career is because they don’t start learning from an early age. They tend to underestimate themselves afterwards.”

WiSTEM guides children from an early age towards utilizing STEM education opportunities, which build courage and determination to stay in school and work towards a career. Among the opportunities offered through WiSTEM, students can choose workshops and hands-on experience with electronics, coding and design.

Discouraging Absenteeism

While WiSTEM expands opportunities for girls in school and increases their confidence in themselves, one of the main problems regarding girls’ education in Nepal is absenteeism.

A recent study utilizing data from the 2014 Nepal Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) reveals that marriage is the most common reason in Nepal for children quitting school. The study found that dropouts due to marriage range from fifth to tenth grade, and married girls are 10 times more likely to quit school than unmarried girls.

Social norms and security concerns in Nepal commonly prevent married girls from attending school. It is a common view in Nepal that education is unnecessary for girls beyond marriage. Even in areas with free or low-cost school supplies and easily accessible schools, married girls often stay home.

It is also common for husbands and parents-in-law to fear that married girls will be raped or abducted, and thus prevent them from traveling to formal schools.

Zero Tolerance Project

Since Nepali girls’ safety is at greater risk than boys’ of becoming victims of gender-based violence in school, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is working with UNICEF on a project for Nepal called “Zero Tolerance, Gender-based Violence-Free Schools.”

This project focuses on increasing the ability of students and educators to report violence and receive assistance in areas where child marriage and violence against girls are most common.

In addition to spreading awareness of gender-based violence at Nepali schools and encouraging witnesses to report incidences, the Zero Tolerance project links together the communication network within and between schools and community service providers.

This stronger reporting network works as an alarm system to prevent violence at school, which helps girls and their families feel safer about sending them to school. This project is active in 200 schools in the central region of Nepal where child marriage is common.

Creating Opportunities

Both boys and girls need assistance in education, yet girls in Nepal face more risks than Nepali boys regarding school and may need more assistance. Hopefully, with continued support from the U.S. and U.N., Nepali government and educators will continue to focus on improving education, with extra effort for ensuring safety and equal opportunities for girls.

Overall, the more literate the men and women of Nepal become, the more Nepal changes towards becoming a developed country. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), while linking literacy rates definitively to other variables is difficult, studies show it is likely that improving literacy rates increases health, income, political participation, democratic ideals, economic growth and confidence in asserting human rights.

– Emme Leigh

Photo: Flickr

NepalPoverty is a significant and growing concern in Nepal. The country’s Finance Ministry estimated that 21.6 percent of Nepal’s population, or 6 million Nepalis, are living under the poverty line. This makes Nepal one of the most impoverished countries in South Asia.

Poverty In Nepal

High poverty rates have numerous implications. Nepal has an extremely high infant mortality rate. Per 1,000 live births in Nepal, 34.5 children die before the age of 5. Poverty contributes to this significantly, as many of these lives likely could have been saved with greater hygiene standards and access to healthcare.

Over 50,000 children die every year in Nepal with malnutrition accounting for over 60 percent of the deaths. A total of half of the children in Nepal are underweight. Rates of disease and death in pregnant women are also high due to lack of access to healthcare and poor hygiene.

Considerable amounts of political unrest and conflict in Nepal have contributed to the poverty issue. Schools have been forced to close or teachers go on strike, which leads to a shortened school year for the Nepali children. Living in a conflict zone also makes it much more difficult for children to travel to and from school.

SAMBHAV

Thankfully, there are many non-profits out there that work to make a difference in the world of poverty. SAMBHAV in Nepal is one of them. This organization utilizes youth clubs and training programs to alleviate the burdens of poverty, specifically for teens and women. These initiatives lead to reforms in education and healthcare, to name a few.

Past projects have included a drinking water project in which SAMBHAV rebuilt the water systems in villages and schools after the earthquake in Nepal in 2015. This venture led to increased access to clean drinking water in impoverished communities leading to better hygiene and fewer diseases for those living in poverty.

SAMBHAV and Education

Providing quality education is also essential in alleviating poverty. SAMBHAV in Nepal has reconstructed schools and moved them to more convenient locations in order to increase attendance. For example, when Dharapani Secondary School first began, it only had 10 students. The school was destroyed by an earthquake in 1987 and was poorly rebuilt.

SAMBHAV brought attention to this project’s needs, and in 2010, it was rebuilt by The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Dharapani Secondary School was completely reconstructed with a new toilet facility installed. In addition, multiple teacher training programs were implemented to increase the quality of the school’s education system. Dharapani Secondary School now has around 400 students.

SAMBHAV has included the reconstruction of another school in its current projects in Nepal’s. The Bhairabi Primary School was also damaged after the earthquake and was in desperate need of reconstruction. Phase I of the project, which was finished in April of 2017, included three newly constructed classrooms in addition to three renovated old classrooms and three new toilets. Phase II is now underway and is set to consist of rebuilding a five-block classroom and adding three more toilets.  

Thanks to the efforts of SAMBHAV, children in Nepal have brighter futures in the face of poverty.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in NepalNepal is a very small country that is found landlocked between India and China. There is evidence that Nepal has been populated in the mountainous regions for as long as 9,000 years. The estimated population of Nepal is 26.5 million and is one of the poorest countries in the world with nearly one-third of the population below the poverty line.

Agriculture in Nepal is central to the economy of this country. Nearly 80 percent of the population relies on agriculture in some way, but there is not enough production to support the population. There is a chronic issue of child malnutrition and an estimated 50 percent of Nepal’s children are affected by stunting. This rate is even higher in the mountainous regions.

Regional Variance of Agriculture in Nepal

There are three major climatic regions in Nepal, with each providing unique crops. The best crop-yielding area is Terai, which borders India. This area has a subtropical climate that supports the production of rice, wheat, barley, oil seeds, jute, tobacco, indigo and even opium. This area is a large crop-producing area but is compromised heavily by the changing climate, which is causing crop yield to be erratic.

The hill regions are crucial to agriculture in Nepal with the farmers being able to produce different crops during different seasons. These farmers of the hill regions can produce rice and maize in the summer and wheat, barley, mustard and vegetables in the winter. This region is also affected by increasing climate change.

The mountainous regions of Nepal have always been a harsh environment for the production of agriculture in Nepal. This area is limited to the crops of potatoes, barley and buckwheat. The harsh conditions cause the farmers to rely on livestock as a key source of income and agriculture in Nepal. Livestock is the main producer of yogurt, cheese, ghee and eggs. These farmers are known to raise Yaks that provide meat, milk and wool as a source of cash.

Efforts to Boost Production

Nepal’s government has made efforts to improve the production of agriculture in Nepal but has had minimal success. Nepal has many water sources but efforts to provide farmers with irrigation systems have proven inadequate. Nepal’s government introduced chemical fertilizers in the 1950s, which did create a small increase in agricultural production.

The lack of transportation in the mountainous regions has been a major obstacle for exports and the government has provided little improvement in this area as well. In the 1980s, Nepal’s government efforts to increase production began to improve exports with Nepal becoming one of the largest exporters of rice. However, now Nepal has a major food insecurity for its own population.

Food insecurity in Nepal has been exacerbated by changing climate, deforestation and the strike of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2015. Deforestation is eroding topsoil and damaging water sources. The 2015 earthquake caused an estimated 8,699 deaths and a massive rebuilding project. More than 500,000 homes and 1,300 governmental buildings were destroyed, which has had a devastating impact on agriculture in Nepal.

Capacity-Building Foreign Aid

USAID has developed programs to help Nepal’s government rebuild agriculture and help the population to rise above the poverty level. USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative works with Nepal’s government and local development partners to increase agricultural production, create access to markets and improve child nutrition. In just five years, the Feed the Future Initiative has helped more than one million people in Nepal by dropping the poverty level by 36 percent. This project has also decreased the estimated 49 percent rate of child malnutrition to 36 percent in 2016.

USAID has also implemented the Program for Enhancement of Emergency Response (PEER). This program trains Nepalese citizens in search and rescue of collapsed structures. Also, medical first-responders are being trained and hospitals equipped for emergencies. This program was developed in response to the disastrous earthquake of 2015.

The rebuilding of Nepal is a necessity to improve agriculture in Nepal and decrease poverty. Nepal’s government has acted to increase production, but Nepal is still in need of outside assistance. A National Adaptation Programme of Action has begun to help educate farmers on switching crops from wheat and rice to vegetables that can be grown in less time.

Higher yields can produce more income, but Nepal still lacks the ability to support the local population with current production. Agriculture in Nepal is in great need of assistance to reduce poverty and child malnutrition.

– Kristen Hibbett
Photo: Flickr