Poverty in Nepal
Straddled by two of Asia’s growing giants, India and China, Nepal features vast, mountainous landscapes and people from diverse ethnic cultures. However, the nation remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Here are 15 facts about poverty in Nepal.

15 Facts About Poverty in Nepal

  1. Poverty Rate: Twenty-five percent of the Nepali population lived below the poverty line in 2011. However, the country has seen a significant improvement compared to a rate of 41.8 percent in 1996 and 30.9 percent in 2004.
  2. Malnourishment: High food prices and limited access to farming in rural areas contribute to hunger in Nepal. Around 5 million people in Nepal do not have sufficient nourishment. Additionally, more than 85 percent of people rely on small scale agriculture as their main form of sustenance.
  3. Civil War: Nepal experienced a civil war between 1996 and 2006, the effects of which the country still feels today. Conflict within a country often coincides with increasing poverty rates, as it limits the transportation of resources, health care access and a healthy job market.
  4. Corruption: Nepal’s government holds a reputation for being corrupt. Abuse of authority leads to an unfair economic system and unequal distribution of resources thereby perpetuating the issue of poverty in Nepal. Countries often feel the effects of corrupt government bureaucracy during natural disasters.
  5. Natural Disasters: Natural disasters have heavily afflicted Nepal, such as the 2015 earthquake which destroyed infrastructure, homes and economic growth. An already struggling economy and little political stability often exacerbate the effects of earthquakes in Nepal. Between the main earthquake in 2015 and the aftershock that came two weeks later, 8,970 lost their lives and 22,303 people became seriously injured. Estimates determine that the total value of the damages from the earthquake and aftershock are equivalent to $7 billion.
  6. Infant Mortality Rates: A lack of health care and access to education in impoverished regions, for which there are many in Nepal, contribute to high infant mortality rates. In 2016, for every 1,000 children born in Nepal, 34 died before their fifth birthday.
  7. Geography: The geography of this country makes it difficult to effectively alleviate poverty. As a landlocked and mountainous region, the development and transportation of resources are cumbersome in Nepal. Furthermore, Nepal experiences political pressures from neighboring countries that can interfere with resource distribution.
  8. Infrastructure: Nepal’s roads are often in rough condition and the seasons heavily affect them. Delays, flat tires and small spaces are common. Because of their rural location, distance and terrain isolate much of Nepal’s population from employment and economic opportunities. Lack of basic infrastructure and access to transportation services makes it difficult for those in poverty to access markets and services.
  9. Agriculture: A lack of advanced farming methods also makes it hard for the country to make progress against poverty. Eighty percent of Nepal’s population lives in rural areas. In 2017, agriculture made up nearly one-third of the Himalayan country’s GDP. Additionally, over 85 percent of its people relied on agriculture as their main form of sustenance. However, outdated methods are slowing the farming pace, and Nepal’s government continually fails to provide proper infrastructure to farmers.
  10. Education: Prior to 1951, only members of the upper class received an education. Since then, the Nepali government began expanding the reach of education. However, when the country introduced private education, the gap between rich and poor children only widened. Poor children still have low rates of access to education and many children leave school to work or help at home. Nepal as a whole has a literacy rate of only 65 percent. Furthermore, the quality of education remains low, as the teachers themselves often have very little schooling.
  11. Forced Labor and Human Trafficking: Nepal is a source, transit and destination country for forced labor and human traffickers. Lack of education for women and children leave them particularly vulnerable. Many women will agree to marriages through matchmaking companies and find themselves in a domestic slavery situation instead. In desperation, parents will allow people to take their children in exchange for education opportunities. However, these children often end up in false orphanages to garner donations from tourists.
  12. Sanitation: Access to basic sanitation is still a major problem in Nepal. Nearly 10.8 million people are without access to basic sanitation and 16 percent of the population practices open defecation. Organizations such as the Global Hope Network have sought to educate inhabitants of villages about the health issues associated with these systems, and have begun building more sanitary infrastructure in places without access to toilets.
  13. Rice Production and Economic Growth: In 2017, Nepal produced 5.2 million tons of rice, the most ever recorded. This helped the country grow economically by 7.5 percent and greatly reduced its poverty levels. During this same time period, Nepali foreign workers sent significant amounts of remittances and inflation rates stabilized for the time being.
  14. SAMBHAV: There are many nonprofits working to alleviate poverty in Nepal from the ground up. Organizations such as SAMBHAV are beginning with the education system. This group has reconstructed schools and moved them to more convenient locations in order to increase attendance. SAMBHAV also renovates and rebuilds schools so that students can study in modern, clean and safe classrooms, often adding sanitation facilities where they did not previously exist.
  15. Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity is also working on the ground in Nepal to address the housing crisis. Currently, the organization, alongside its partners, is building 2.3 houses per hour.

The issues contributing to these facts about poverty in Nepal are many, but the country is making progress. The country’s poverty rate has seen significant improvement over the past two decades, and recent economic successes should continue that trend, leading to a better quality of life for more and more Nepalis. Efforts of volunteers and nonprofit organizations have the potential to make a big difference. These 15 facts about poverty in Nepal highlight the various issues that contribute to the problem and the impact they have on the country.

– GiGi Hogan
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

Poverty in Nepal
Poverty in Nepal has experienced a steady decline since the 1990s. The country’s efforts to further reduce poverty will build off existing success, population growth control and using sustainable development goals to promote development.

Between 1995 and 2015, Nepal’s poverty rate declined by an estimated 2.2-3.2 percentage points each year. The national poverty rate in 1995 was 41.8%, a figure that was reduced to 21.2% in 2015. The main drivers of Nepal’s poverty decline are remittances from migration, more diverse labor income and slowed population growth.

Migration remittances increased from less than 1% to 29% of Nepal’s GDP between the late 1990s and 2014. Remittances have caused wage increases within Nepal and driven demand for non-food items and services, generating employment in more diverse industries.

Population growth control has been a main fixture of the government as a means to combat poverty in Nepal. The country’s population doubled between 1960 and 1990 and was expected to double again between 1990 and 2015. However, beginning in the 1990s, the average number of births for a Nepali woman dropped from six in the 1970s to two in 2014, slowing population growth.

Population growth still hinders progress in Nepal’s more rural regions, where the number of births has not declined. In Nepal’s mountains, hills and Terai plains regions, there is insufficient land to accommodate the livelihoods for an increasing number of people. The Nepali government is continuing to make population growth control a central tenant of its poverty reduction plans by promoting a two-child family as the norm.

While progress is underway, natural disaster hinders Nepal’s growth. The 2015 earthquake pushed 700,000 Nepalis under the poverty line. Recovery is ongoing and can appear slow. Distribution of aid is often uneven and cash grants needed for reconstruction have been distributed slowly and in small increments.

While there are areas of recovery in need of improvement, international support programs show hope for regrowth. The U.N. Development Program has implemented cash-for-work programs and supported the restoration of micro-enterprises, both of which build individual recovery and community resilience. Sustained commitment to the SDGs will facilitate earthquake recovery and continued poverty reduction in Nepal. Two main objectives of earthquake recovery are poverty eradication and gender equality, both of which align with the SDGs.

In order to promote sustained growth, Nepal must frame its commitment to the SDGs in a national context. “What works for Bolivia might not work for Nepal,” says UNDP resident representative in Nepal, Valerie Julliand. Identifying the precise ways in which the SDGs can benefit Nepali citizens will facilitate their implementation and enable further poverty reduction.

Between the Nepali government’s plans and programs enacted by international organizations, Nepal is progressing towards sustained economic growth and poverty reduction. Poverty in Nepal has experienced a steady decline in recent decades and continued commitment to earthquake recovery and the SDGs proves promising for the country’s development.

McKenna Lux

Photo: Flickr


Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson designated Temporary Protected Status to Nepal on June 24, 2015.

Temporary Protected Status is granted by the Secretary of Homeland Security when nationals of a country are unable to return to their country safely, or when a country cannot adequately handle nationals returning to their country. The Secretary of Homeland Security may grant Temporary Protected Status to a country that is experiencing a civil war, a country that has experienced an environmental disaster, or a country that is in other extraordinary and temporary situations.

In this case, Nepal experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25, 2015. Nepal ranks among the poorer countries in the world and has a GDP of about $19 billion and a population of 27.8 million. The earthquake has caused 1 million people to fall below the poverty line and has worsened existing poverty in Nepal.

More than 8,000 people died following the earthquake, and thousands were left homeless and without proper medical care. There are several temporary camps across the country, but many are without sufficient food and water. In addition, children and families have to worry about the threat of human trafficking, which has been made worse by the earthquake.

It is for these reasons that Temporary Protected Status to Nepal was designated. Nepalese nationals are allowed to apply and reside in the United States and possibly receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Nepalese nationals in the United States could also have the ability to travel and be protected from deportation. The Temporary Protected Status will last for 18 months and could possibly be extended further.

The ability of the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate a country for Temporary Protected Status is a way for countries to cooperate globally during or after a disastrous event. The United States can assist Nepalese nationals living within its borders and can also help Nepal by allowing Nepalese nationals to stay in the United States.

Nepal is working to improve conditions within the country with the help of humanitarian aid from other countries. Until then, Nepalese nationals can stay and work in the United States in order to remain safe following this crisis.

Ella Cady

Sources: BBC, United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Immigration Impact, Times of India, USCIS
Photo: The Guardian


In the past, Nepal has been regarded as one of the poorest countries in the world. Poverty in Nepal is caused by poor infrastructure, health, education and economy. The country is also susceptible to natural disasters due to its location. However, thanks to the people who have been dedicated to improving conditions in Nepal, there is good news: extreme poverty have been reduced by 50 percent in the last 20 years.

How did this happen? Innovative developments are being introduced to the country, and Nepal is already benefiting from them.  The newborn mortality rate has already dropped 34 percent since a disinfectant gel to rub on the umbilical cord—rather than the traditional usage of oil, ash and even animal droppings—was presented to Nepalese mothers.

Other strides are being made by implementing different programs for the Nepalese people, like a nutrition program called “Suaahara” that educates families on proper farming and hygiene. Another program prioritizes improving the literacy rate of children. If the population of Nepal becomes 10 percent more literate, this can boost their economy by 0.3 percent.

Important changes are being made in Nepal’s legal system and government, too.  Organ selling has only recently become illegal and efforts are being made to help and protect a large number of human trafficking victims. According to USAID, 15,000 Nepali women and girls are trafficked out of the country per year, while 7,500 are trafficked domestically for sexual exploitation.

One of these efforts is the Combating Trafficking in Persons Project, carried out in Nepal to prevent, protect and provide justice for human trafficking victims. Now that the victims are a focus, traffickers are beginning to face legal consequences.

Nepal is also still working on becoming a democracy after having been a monarchy for so many years. This means that citizens of Nepal will get the chance to vote for the first time in 16 years.  At this rate, the country is expected to be rid of extreme poverty by 2030. What was once a country full of people living on one dollar a day is now a country with a bright future.

Melissa Binns

Sources: U.S. Department of State,  USAID 1,  USAID 2

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Nepal
Poverty in Nepal? Sadly, yes. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. The UN estimates that 40% of Nepalis live in poverty. Food insecurity, poor housing, low soil quality, low literacy, natural disasters, and ethnic discrimination plague the Nepalese people.  Though subsistence farming is the main way of life in Nepal, most of the population lives in the rural, mountainous region where the rocky terrain and arid soil make agriculture difficult.

Ownership of the fertile land is based on the feudal system.  Most families have land holdings of less than 1 hectare, too small to meet their family’s needs.  Most villages are made up of large families, and migrants come from the mountains to the lowlands. Refugees from Bhutan fled to Nepal during the violence in the 1990s. The growing population is putting pressure on the little cultivable land.

As a country straddling two tectonic plates, earthquakes, floods, landslides, and glacial melting inhibit economic growth.  Socially, Nepal unofficially recognizes the caste system, especially in rural areas.  This means poverty of lower castes is justified and expected.  Women also face discrimination in terms of healthcare, nutrition, education, and the domestic realm.  Women are unable to make major decisions or take responsibility for their own economic advancement.  Many women go hungry, and female babies are sometimes victims of infanticide.

The Maoists that rose up against the monarchs of Nepal from 1990s to the early 2000s dominate the government.  There is a president and a prime minister; however, there has not been a parliament since May 2012 after they failed to draft a new constitution.  Political instability is a major obstacle to socioeconomic reform and international cooperation.

Tourism, especially for climbing, is a key industry for the rural regions with urban areas surviving off of trade with India.  Major exports include carpet, clothing, leather goods, and grain.  Nepal is highly dependent on foreign aid and assistance from NGOs.  Ongoing NGO projects include energy access, skills development, environmental protection, infrastructure, clean water, and education.

Stephanie Lamm

Sources: ADB, Rural Poverty Portal, BBC
Photo: Wikipedia


Learn about education in Nepal.