El Salvador's water crisisEl Salvador is Central America’s most densely populated nation and water is crucial to more than 6 million people who call El Salvador home. However, diminishing supplies and high water pollution levels have plunged El Salvador’s into a deep crisis over water access.

El Salvador’s Water Crisis

More than 1.6 million El Salvadorians have no access to clean water at home, with 90% of surface water unsafe for drinking, some are forced to make trips to communal water sources up to 20 times a day. El Salvador’s extraordinarily high water pollution levels can be attributed to sources such as industrial and agricultural runoff, where poor state infrastructure means that water is often left untreated. Without clean water, diseases such as dysentery can impact education and household income, as children and adults are too ill to attend school or work. According to U.N. estimates, at least 27% of Salvadorans live in poverty. Many lack the means to afford proper treatment, meaning that diseases can be fatal up to 50% of the time.

Capacity Building

While the severity of El Salvador’s water crisis cannot be denied, various solutions offer hope for those most affected. Strengthening the capacity of El Salvador’s water infrastructure is being implemented in several key ways. After decades of inaction, the Salvadoran government passed the Water Resources Law in 2022, which established a local water regulation authority and requires government approval for industrial or agricultural water usage. Regulating the usage of El Salvador’s water should aid the government in ensuring wastewater is treated and reducing overall pollution. The World Bank has dedicated $100 million to improving water quality in El Salvador with a project that aims to benefit the health and well-being of the most vulnerable groups. A further $100 million was pledged by the Inter-American Development Bank to improve water access for around 120,000 households. El Salvador has also recently banned mining for metal, a leading cause of water pollution in the country.

Water Purification

El Salvador’s water crisis is also being addressed by water purification initiatives, which allow vulnerable residents to access clean water while waiting for infrastructure to be strengthened. More than 2,500 rural families now benefit from solar-powered wells. In areas with insufficient electrical grid capacity, solar power drives clean water from wells into storage tanks. Where clean water is unavailable, sand filtration technology can be used to remove impurities and toxins in water, giving communities access to clean water while removing the need to travel. El Salvador’s water crisis severely threatens its most vulnerable citizens. Pollution and poor infrastructure have left millions without safe water sources. However, capacity building, investment and water purification technology provide a crucial lifeline to El Salvador’s most impoverished citizens.

– Jamie Paterson
Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in NepalAs of May 2023, 15.1% of Nepal’s population continues to live below the poverty line — less than $1.90 a day. In 2014, this number stood at 30.1%. Despite these drastic improvements, Nepal’s poorest continue to face significant challenges, as levels of malnutrition and air pollution remain critically high, and standards of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) remain critically low. As a result, communicable, maternal, neonation and nutritional (CMNN) diseases alone continue to cause 21% of deaths in Nepal, despite being largely preventable. Listed below are some of the most prominent diseases in Nepal. 

Top 7 Diseases in Nepal

  • Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) – Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), such as coronary heart disease and strokes, are the leading cause of death in Nepal, with 24% of total deaths being attributed to CVDs alone in 2019. Cardiovascular disease is the general term for conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. CVDs are the leading cause of death globally.
  • Malaria – Malaria poses a “serious and persistent threat to public health” in much of Southeast Asia, according to the World Health Organization, and it is the region with the second-highest estimated malaria burden globally. While Malaria remains the second-highest leading cause of death in Nepal, between 2015 and 2021, the country has seen a more than 40% reduction in the number of cases recorded, a global target set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The mortality rate from malaria has also decreased drastically between 2009 and 2019, a decrease of almost 82 deaths per 100,000 cases
  • Diarrheal Disease – Often caused by bacteria, diarrheal diseases are particularly common in countries such as Nepal, where there are poor water, sanitation and hygiene standards (also known as WASH) for the majority of the population. While numbers are improving, diarrheal diseases remain the third highest cause of death and remain one of the most prominent diseases in Nepal. 
  • Lower Respiratory Infection – Often used as a synonym for pneumonia, lower respiratory infections are any infections in the lungs or below the voice box. Largely a result of poor levels of WASH and dangerous levels of air pollution in the country’s capital, Kathmandu, currently standing at 4.9 times higher than recommended by WHO, lower respiratory infections are one of the top diseases in Nepal. 
  • HIV/AIDS – Around 30,000 people in Nepal live with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). If left untreated, HIV can develop into AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), which is often fatal. Since February 2017, the United Nations’ Test and Treat Strategy has aimed to prevent the spread and to administer treatment of HIV and AIDS, with highly positive results. More work, however, needs to be done to ensure the Test and Treat Strategy can be administered effectively and reaches Nepal’s most vulnerable, to ensure that one day it no longer ranks as one of Nepal’s most prominent diseases and leading causes of death
  • Tuberculosis (TB) A serious bacterial infection of the lungs, the prevalence of tuberculosis in Nepal has been on the rise since 2018. Around 117,000 people in Nepal have been diagnosed with TB, and an estimated 69,000 of these developed TB in 2018 alone. WHO surveys estimate that around 40% of people who present with symptoms of tuberculosis do not seek treatment. Malnutrition is one of the main factors leading to the contraction of TB. 
  • Meningitis – A bacterial infection of the lining around the brain and the spinal cord, meningitis is particularly prevalent among Nepal’s youth. 83% of the cases occur among those under 25 years of age, while the highest age-specific attack rate is children under 1 year of age. With a lack of access to public health care services among Nepal’s poorest, the case fatality rate for meningitis in Nepal stands at 11%, making it one of Nepal’s deadliest diseases. 


For each of Nepal’s most prevalent diseases, their fatality levels have decreased substantially over the last 15 years. This is in large part due to the work of NGOs and nonprofit organizations such as USAID and WHO helping to improve levels of malnutrition and standards of WASH. USAID is currently working with the Government of Nepal to improve the country’s public health services, providing critical care to Nepal’s poorest and most vulnerable. Yet communicable and preventable diseases in Nepal continue to be a leading cause of death, and more work needs to be done to ensure these numbers continue to improve. 

– Eleanor Lomas
Photo: Unsplash

Illegal Kidney Trade in NepalNepal, a landlocked country in South Asia, shares borders with India to the south and China to the north. The majority of Nepalese, around 70%, depend on agriculture as their primary source of sustenance. However, Nepal is located in one of the world’s largest earthquake-prone areas, resulting in the destruction of countless homes and crop fields. Consequently, an increasing number of Nepalis are resorting to illegal kidney trade for sustenance.

According to a CNN report, Nepal witnesses up to 7,000 illegal kidney transplant cases each year. Many of the individuals involved in these transactions come from low-income backgrounds, driven by the need to repay debts or earn a livelihood. In the village of Hokse, commonly referred to as Nepal’s “Kidney Valley,” more than 300 residents have sold their kidneys for as little as $500 to $3,000.

Reasons Behind the Illegal Kidney Trade in Nepal

  1. Poverty: Nepal, one of the world’s poorest countries, faced numerous challenges in 2021. With a per capita GDP of only $1,208, the country heavily relies on donations from foreign countries to support its economic development. In fact, approximately one-third of Nepal’s population lives below the poverty line set by the World Bank at $2.15 a day. The average Nepalese worker earns less than $2 a day, driving many individuals to view selling their kidneys as a desperate means of survival.
  2. Medical resource scarcity: Compounding the issue is the scarcity of medical resources in Nepal. The country has one of the highest rates of kidney disease globally, affecting around 6% of adults with chronic kidney disease. The underfunding of Nepal’s health care system further exacerbates the overwhelming demand for kidney care. As a result, a thriving black market for organs has emerged, forcing many patients to turn to illegal kidney trade as their only option for treatment.
  3. Lack of basic medical knowledge: Furthermore, a lack of basic medical knowledge compounds the situation in Nepal. Organ brokers, who illicitly recruit individuals for organ sales, propagate the false notion that kidneys can regenerate and that the absence of one kidney will not impact overall health. These misleading statements manipulate and deceive uneducated Nepalis, leading them to consider selling their organs based on these unfounded claims

The Lifelong Harm

The kidneys play a vital role in filtering and detoxifying the body. The absence of one kidney can profoundly affect the body, as the remaining kidney must shoulder an increased workload. Consequently, individuals who sell their kidneys face the risk of life-threatening conditions such as renal failure. Furthermore, illegal kidney transplants lack the presence of qualified medical personnel and sterile equipment, resulting in potential infections, blood loss and other irreparable health complications.

Ongoing Efforts

The Indian government has introduced Bipanna Nagarik Kosh, a program aimed at providing financial aid to individuals suffering from serious illnesses, including cancer, kidney failure and other diseases. According to the Department of Health Services, the government has allocated over Rs2 billion for this initiative, with kidney diseases accounting for more than 52% of the expenditure. In January 2023, the Prime Minister of India announced plans to enhance the capacity of the National Human Organ Transplant Center (HOTC). Additionally, the Health Ministry has partnered with more than 50 NGO-operated hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis centers nationwide to offer free dialysis services and financial support for transplants and treatments for patients with kidney ailments.

Despite these efforts, Nepal’s National Human Rights Commissioner has raised concerns about the lack of attention from the Nepalese government and international humanitarian agencies regarding this issue. This negligence continues to expose numerous innocent Nepalis to the perils of the illegal kidney trade, making them vulnerable victims.

Looking Ahead

The illegal kidney trade in Nepal is an ongoing issue. However, there is a glimmer of hope as dedicated efforts seek to address this pressing issue. These initiatives, backed by substantial funding, demonstrate a commitment to improving the lives of those affected. The hope is to create a safe and prosperous society where the people of Nepal never have to consider trading organs for survival.

– Mingjun Hou
Photo: Pixabay

Craft AssociationThe incidence of poverty in Nepal had been dropping before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic could increase Nepal’s poverty rate to the levels of more than a decade ago due to a loss of jobs and income. A UNICEF-sponsored survey indicates that, in October 2020, a shocking 42% of families in Nepal had no income at all. Furthermore, in the same month, 45% of people reported job losses. In addition, one in five households surveyed reported being unable to secure adequate food to feed their families. Even people who still have jobs are earning less than before the pandemic. The tourism sector has also been severely hurt by the pandemic and more than half of all households are at risk of returning to poverty. The Association for Craft Producers (ACP) is helping combat poverty in Nepal.

The Association for Craft Producers

Helping to counter the effects of poverty in Nepal is the Association for Craft Producers. The organization founded in 1984 is a not-for-profit, fair trade organization that helps low-income Nepalese craft producers with design, marketing and management services for their craft products. Due to its success, it has grown to roughly 1,000 artisans, 90% of whom are women. The artisans produce beautiful crafts such as ceramic teapots, woven rugs and wooden tables. Nepali Craft Trading Ltd. exports the artisans’ products to 18 different countries. Since 2003, ACP has been certified as a Fair Trade organization. The group abides by the principles of fair trade as outlined by the World Fair Trade Organization to ensure artisans are provided with adequate compensation and benefits for their work.

Benefits for Nepali Artisans

The ACP artisans have access to a number of benefits to help lift them out of poverty and progress. For instance, artisans are provided a clothing stipend, 90 days of paid maternity leave and an allowance for emergencies. The ACP also provides information to the artisans on matters such as health, education and other important development topics. Since many of the women have never earned enough to be able to save money for the future, producers are encouraged to deposit 10% of their pay into an interest-producing account.

To encourage the education and empowerment of girls, ACP provides a monthly allowance for up to three years to producers who ensure their daughters are enrolled and participating in school for a minimum of four consecutive years. Furthermore, the ACP rewards the three best students with support for an additional year. In addition, the ACP provides the producers with funds for retirement. In these ways, ACP encourages financial security while providing outlets for the artisans to sell products.

Environmental Awareness

The ACP also takes specific actions to preserve its local environment at the foot of the Himalayan mountains. The practices include using recycled paper, installing a rainwater treatment plant and a wastewater treatment plant and discouraging the use of plastic bags. The artisans use an environmentally friendly acid for dyeing and water-based pigments for printing instead of oil-based paints. Finally, the artisans have switched to electric firing methods for ceramic products rather than kerosene-based firing. The women artisans remain environmentally conscious while helping to support families and reduce the devastating effects of poverty in Nepal.

Overall, the ACP craft association is supporting artisans in Nepal in several ways in order to ensure that they are able to rise out of poverty and secure better futures.

Sarah Betuel
Photo: Flickr

Ecotourism Alleviates Poverty in Nepal
Nepal is a small country located between India and China, two of the world’s most powerful nations. Substantial foreign aid is allocated to fighting poverty in Nepal. However, inefficient governments prevent these benefits from reaching the people: one-fourth of Nepalis are living in poverty. Nepal, the birthplace of the Buddha and home to Mount Everest, also has 848 bird species, 600 plant families and more than 100 ethnic groups speaking 90 languages. Despite its ineffective leadership, Nepal’s lush natural environment has created a flourishing ecotourism industry providing business and conservation to the region. By fostering this market, ecotourism alleviates poverty in Nepal and improves life for thousands of the country’s residents.

What is Ecotourism?

According to The International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education.” This definition encompasses aspects from human-environment relationships to understanding landscapes, maintaining species and learning about local cultures.

Many have debated whether zoos are a form of ecotourism or not. Despite the potential for educational value, many do not consider practices of capturing and confining wildlife as ecotourism. Wildlife should not endure any suffering from human interactions, and the interest of the animals should receive priority over humans. Ecotourism allows animals to live independently of human contact, a condition impossible to replicate in zoos.

Environmental Impact

Community-based ecotourism has been immensely successful in Nepal, especially in its rural areas. Due to sparse government regulations, the general tourism industry employs cheap yet harmful practices that have exacerbated poverty in Nepal. Thus, it has become necessary for the country to consider alternative methods of attracting revenue through tourism. With this goal in mind, Nepal has adopted the homestay model of ecotourism.

The primary goal of the homestay industry is to develop economic resilience in rural areas that can work with the environment rather than against it. This cooperation eliminates the need for large infrastructure to accommodate tourists as well as protects the environment from destruction. In a developing country like Nepal, the value of these outcomes is substantial. This system allows community members to become more involved in local tourism. Locals provide lodging, cultural education and history for compensation.

The ecotourism initiative has proven to be fruitful: of the 1.2 million tourists that visited Nepal in 2018, the majority explored natural areas. Across the country, 484 homestay houses are registered around natural sites like Chitwan National Park. These establishments also encourage the improvement of sanitation facilities like clean toilets, filtered water and pollution-free air, which are crucial to reducing poverty in Nepal.

From these homestays, tourists can travel to various nearby sites. At these sites, they can engage in activities including hiking, mountaineering, cultural immersion and rafting. These efforts propel afforestation projects and preserve biodiversity by preventing forest conversion. Community-based ecotourism has kept ancient cultures alive, protected the environment and provided economic and cultural stability to local communities.

Economic Impact

Oftentimes, people think of the environment and the economy as mutually exclusive; however, ecotourism in Nepal has challenged this mindset. Ecotourism contributes to about 4% of Nepal’s total GDP and provides varying forms of employment to about 200,000 people. These opportunities are growing for people like Pratiksha Chaudhary, who runs a homestay in the village of Dalla near Bardia National Park.

The thirty-three-year-old reflects on her initially timid nature when she began hosting guests, concerned that her rooms were not clean enough or that her food was not good enough. However, after a decade in the business, Chaudhary has found confidence in herself and in her work. She can now afford home renovations and has added two bigger rooms, tiled flooring and hot water. These additions help her remain competitive in her village’s ecotourism industry, which has experienced a doubling of homestays in the last decade. Through the income she earns, Chaudhary can also provide her son with quality education and protect her natural environment.

Protected areas across the country have created a substantial decrease in inequality and poverty in Nepal. Studies found increasing the number of protected areas in Village Development Committees from 10% to 70% led to increased prosperity for those villages. Additionally, protected areas with high tourism rates reduced the overall poverty rate, demonstrating that ecotourism alleviates poverty in Nepal.

The social and economic benefits of ecotourism do not stop there. In a study of homestay operators in Nepal, 83% reported feeling empowered. Additionally, 88% reported improving their lifestyle after opening their business. The local and tourist support these owners receive has also enabled them to maintain their cultural identities, adding further intrinsic benefits to the homestay field. These positive outcomes challenge the assumption that ecotourism only benefits the elite: data shows that homestays offer potential paths out of poverty for even the most remote villages in Nepal.

The Future of Ecotourism in Nepal

Ecotourism provides great potential for entrepreneurship and economic resilience that will ultimately help combat poverty in Nepal, especially for women. Qualitative data from a 2017 study shows that women tend to be more self-confident, financially independent and better educated in family decision-making when involved in homestay businesses.

Ecotourism and homestays have proven to be effective steps in boosting local economies and involving remote villages. However, establishing completely eliminating poverty in Nepal will require assistance from governments through policy. By expanding the availability of tools for conservation efforts and using ecotourism as an aid for other sectors like agritourism and transportation, the government could boost the economy and reach more people sustainably. As an industry, ecotourism alleviates poverty in Nepal and serves as a role model for developing countries pursuing similar endeavors.

– Mizla Shrestha
Photo: NeedPix

Nepal’s rural communitiesNepal’s economy is heavily reliant on farming and livestock, with 65% of the population engaging in these industries. This sector accounts for around 35% of the country’s GDP. However, many of Nepal’s rural communities that comprise the backbone of this sector still face poverty and food insecurity. Around 27% of Nepalese children under the age of five are underweight. In normal years, Nepal’s rural communities already face many challenges. According to a large sample survey of rural Nepalis, around a quarter of respondents report having to restrict meal portions during the lean season. The lean season is the period between planting and harvesting. Rural incomes dry up during this period.

COVID-19 Related Challenges in Nepal’s Rural Communities

While quarantine and lockdown have been a vital part of curbing the spread of COVID-19, it created challenges for rural Nepalis. A joint research team of the Yale Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale (Y-RISE) and the Centre for the Study of Labour and Mobility in Kathmandu tracked 2,600 households in rural Nepal before and after the COVID-19 lockdown. The main problem that this study identified is as lean seasons arrive and grain stocks from the last harvest are exhausted. In addition, extended lockdowns could lead to more hunger and push families below the poverty line. Krishna Rana, a rural citizen in Nepal shares, “Forget about nutritious food, it has been hard to manage daily food for us.”

In a normal year, during the lean season, workers are able to travel into the cities for temporary work. However, this isn’t possible during the lockdown. This study found that the total hours in income-generating work for men have decreased by 75% since January. These statistics indicate that the COVID-19 lockdown will have profound economic impacts. Additionally, it could exacerbate cycles of poverty. As Rana’s husband Rajendra Rana says, “There’s no work I can do. It’s been tough to feed nine members in the family and I am the sole breadwinner.”

Relief Measures to Face Nepal’s Agricultural Challenges

The country’s local governments take on the responsibility of supporting Nepal’s rural communities through the pandemic. Local governments have been allocating resources like food to its most vulnerable citizens. However, these local governments express the need for additional support. As Dhan Bahadur Thapa, Chairman of Beldandi Rural Municipality says, “We lack proper resources, and the support from the non-government agencies have been very essential; through the help of them we are trying our best to feed our people.”

NGOs That Help Assist The Governmental Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

  1. The International Institute for Environment and Development: The International Institute for Environment and Development is a policy and action research organization. It has been leading an initiative called “Empowering Producers in Commercial Agriculture” in Nepal. This project began in 2018. In addition, it centered around finding ways to empower rural communities both economically and socio-legally. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the research framework of this project has been instrumental in helping local governments locate the rural communities most in need.
  2. DanChurchAid (DCA): DCA provides roughly 21 million Nepalese rupees worth of support for approximately 25000 individuals. This amount supports about 4,132 families. One of the specific aims of the DCA’s COVID-19 aid programs is to target pregnant and lactating mothers. Hunger and malnutrition can result in difficulty in producing milk and sustaining a child. Thus, these mothers are especially at risk to be affected by the pandemic lockdown. So far, around 105 of these mothers receive special aid packages with nutritious meals in addition to the regular food aid.
  3. Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS): The NRCS has assisted in the response to food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of August 18, the NRCS distributes a total of 17,933 meals.

With the support of NGOs, it is the hope that Nepal’s rural communities will be able to sustain themselves through the COVID-19 pandemic. Consistent food and resource support will ensure that these communities do not face food insecurity and further poverty. It is essential that these rural communities are aided so they can continue to sustain themselves through farming and livestock rearing in the future.

Antoinette Fang
Photo: Flickr

poverty in nepal
Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia along the Himalayan Mountain Range. According to the United Nations, it is one of the least developed nations in the world. Natural disasters, geographical isolation, ongoing political conflict and poverty exacerbate the challenges of large populations in Nepal.

4 Major Groups that Poverty in Nepal Affects

  1. The Dalit people live outside of the caste system and have no social mobility, facing extreme discrimination. Lower members and untouchables experience restrictions from moving up in the caste system; 46% of the Dalit people in Nepal experience poverty. Dalit women are poorer than Dalit men. Women work for their landlords while men work low social status jobs. Some women are unpaid because they work in Haliya Pratha (bonded labor) or Khala Pratha (forced labor). The Dalit population does not receive equal job opportunities and earns unfair wages. Nepal should enforce laws against discrimination to improve the lives of the Dalit.
  2. Women and girls in poverty need stronger government protections to prevent crime. There is little legal accountability for those who commit violence and rape against women. Girls who have the responsibility of walking miles to get clean water are often at risk of human trafficking. In 2018, authorities refused to recognize the rape and murder of a 15-year-old Dalit girl. Gender discrimination is legal in Nepal and the 2015 Constitution grants men a higher legal status than women. Unfortunately, the government does not strongly enforce laws against chhaupadi (menstrual seclusion) and child marriage.
  3. Landlords control the land-poor or landless people in rural areas. Land ownership results in food access and control over one’s own resources. The feudalistic land system contributes to the fact that the top 5% of people own 37% of the land. Tenants constantly face the threat of face eviction and have no land to grow food on. Landless people do not get access to services such as running water and electricity in their homes whether on private or public property. Nearly 25% of the population owns no land and 85% of people living in rural areas are land poor. Women and Dalits make up a large portion of landless people that poverty in Nepal affects.
  4. The struggling middle class is at risk of falling back into poverty. Although people in the middle class have overcome adversity, chronic poverty still threatens a significant portion. For every two people that overcome poverty, one falls back into poverty. This means that even though Nepal has been successful at reducing poverty, 45% of people are in the vulnerable class that is struggling to stay above the poverty line. If Nepal can provide more social safety nets, it can prevent the vulnerable class known as the struggling middle class from falling back into poverty.

The Poverty Alleviation Fund

The Poverty Alleviation Fund is working in 55 districts to improve Nepali lives. Community building and social inclusion methods uplift groups customarily discriminated against, including the Untouchables, women, rural land-poor and the vulnerable middle class. Using approaches to provide relief and resources to communities, the Poverty Alleviation Fund is working directly with those experiencing poverty in Nepal.

Hannah Nelson
Photo: Flickr

Direct Relief Helps Fight Against COVID-19 in NepalLike many other countries, there has been a large and sudden outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Nepal. The country initiated a nationwide lockdown on March 24 in an attempt to keep the count from rising above 1,000 cases. The strategy worked successfully until May 29 when the World Health Organization reported a sudden escalation of 17,000 cases in Nepal, making it the fourth-most infected country in Southeast Asia. Local media claimed that this surge occurred due to the return of Nepali citizens who had been working in other COVID-19 affected countries. Despite the increase of found cases, the Nepali government only conducted testing on less than 1% of its 29 million population. This stimulated fears that the actual case count is much higher than expected or predicted. Unfortunately, the unavailability of reliable medical equipment has hampered efforts to address and prevent COVID-19 in Nepal.

Direct Relief Background

Direct Relief is renowned for its consistent dedication to helping people around the world recover from natural disasters, humanitarian crises and widespread medical emergencies such as Ebola. In addition, Direct Relief raised and delivered $1.17 billion in aid resources to various countries in 2019. Now, Direct Relief is focusing its aim on the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 globally.

History of Direct Relief’s Help in Nepal

Direct Relief has a long history of helping Nepal through times of crisis. Since beginning its work with Nepal in 2008, Direct Relief has provided more than $67 million worth of medical aid to local healthcare providers. After the 2015 earthquake that killed approximately 9,000 Nepali people, the organization focused on providing on-the-ground assistance in the form of equipment, medicine and trained paramedics. Additionally, Direct Relief repaired destroyed medical facilities and provided mobile assistance for those who could not access what care centers were left.

It is important to note that Nepal is greatly dependent on India for resources. Further, because of the border lockdown, access to medical supplies became severely limited. Nepal is also a mountainous country since it is home to both the Himalayas and Mount Everest. This type of terrain makes it extraordinarily difficult to properly distribute supplies.

Direct Relief’s Assistance During COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the rise of COVID-19 in Nepal, Direct Relief distributed medication, prepared ICU kits and supplied in-person treatment for those infected. Because of its efforts, Direct Relief has successfully acquired and circulated equipment to hospitals all across Nepal. While the borders remain closed and resources are still limited, Direct Relief continues to fight for Nepal and other developing countries in similar situations. Of note, Direct Relief delivered more than 2 million pounds of medicine in Nepal alone.

COVID-19 is a large hurdle to overcome. It is one that can appear seemingly insurmountable for countries struggling to provide sustainable aid for its population. However, it is a threat that can be targeted and minimized with the right kind of effort. Direct Relief continues to apply this effort for the many millions who still suffer around the world.

Nicolette Schneiderman
Photo: Flickr

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% in 1996 and 30.9% 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% 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 have determined 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, more than 85% 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%. 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 leaves 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% 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% 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