Nepal’s HDI Gains

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Nov. 21, 2010, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. 04 No.-11, Nov 19 2010 (Mangsir 03, 2067)

At a time when Nepal’s politics presents a grim picture, there is a reason to rejoice in the overall development indicators. The recently published Human Development Report and a study on Child Poverty Disparities in Nepal showed some positive signs.

The Human Development Report highlights that Nepal is one of the fastest movers in the Human Development Report Index since 1970 and is the 3rd among the Top Ten Movers list in terms of progress in health and education. Between 1970 and 2010, Nepal’s HDI value increased from 0.210 to 0.428, an average increase of 104 percent, while Nepal’s Gross National Income per capita increased by 94 percent during the same period. The gap between Nepal’s life expectancy and the global average has narrowed down by 87 percent over the past 40 years.

Launched by the vice chairman of National Planning Commission Dr. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, the report says Nepal’s impressive progress in health and education can be traced to major public policy efforts such as the free primary education for all children, legislation as far as back 1971 and the extension of primary health care through community participation, local mobilization of resources and decentralization.

The report also reveals that the economic growth has been modest and a lack of employment opportunities had led many Nepalese to seek opportunities abroad. Nepal is still a poor country with an HDI value for 2010 of 0.428- keeping the country in the Low Human Development Category- ranking 138 out of 169 countries and territories listed.

Continuing inequality remains a major reason for Nepal’s HDI position. According to the Human Development Report 2010, large disparities remain between boys and girls in school attendance as well as in the quality of education between urban and rural areas and across ethnic groups. Major health challenges remain, related to communicable diseases and malnutrition. Large disparities separate regions and groups, with quasi-feudal oligarchic system and caste based discriminations continuing to marginalize some.

“Nepal needs to learn from its own success in health and education and apply the same determination to tackle the areas in which it is still lagging behind,” said UNDP country director Ms. Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau.” Addressing inequalities across gender, regions, and groups remains a priority to ensure that no Nepali child, women, youth or persons living in remote areas or from any particular groups is left behind, and also to ensure every Nepali can enjoy his or her fundamental rights and can actively participate in moving Nepal out of Low Human Development Category.”

But, children are seen to be the most affected by poverty and inequality and remain disproportionately poor according to the NPC/UNICEF report on Child Poverty and Disparities. Indicators on malnutrition and sanitation are particularly noticeable.

“ Malnutrition is a real obstacle to the survival, growth and development of children,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representatives, “and the serious effects of under-nutrition at a young age can be irreversible, and can ultimately hinder the development status of the whole nation.”

According to the report, over half of Nepal’s children (55.7 percent) defecate in open spaces. Recent calculations by WHO estimates, that about 13,000 children aged less than five years die each year in Nepal from diarrheal diseases and further 13,000 from Acute Respiratory Infection.
“Nepal needs to learn from its own success in health and education and apply the same determination to tackle the areas in which it is still lagging behind,” said UNDP country director Ms. Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau.” Addressing inequalities across gender, regions, and groups remains a priority to ensure that no Nepali child, women, youth or persons living in remote areas or from any particular groups is left behind, and also to ensure every Nepali can enjoy his or her fundamental rights and can actively participate in moving Nepal out of Low Human Development Category.”

But, children are seen to be the most affected by poverty and inequality and remain disproportionately poor according to the NPC/UNICEF report on Child Poverty and Disparities. Indicators on malnutrition and sanitation are particularly noticeable.

“ Malnutrition is a real obstacle to the survival, growth and development of children,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representatives, “and the serious effects of under-nutrition at a young age can be irreversible, and can ultimately hinder the development status of the whole nation.”

According to the report, over half of Nepal’s children (55.7 percent) defecate in open spaces. Recent calculations by WHO estimates, that about 13,000 children aged less than five years die each year in Nepal from diarrheal diseases and further 13,000 from Acute Respiratory Infection.

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