KATHMANDU, Nepal — With 44 percent of the population still under the poverty line, the poverty in Nepal is considered to be higher in comparison to other countries in the region.
Nepal has an employment to population ration of 86.4 percent with a rate of child labor slightly higher than in surrounding regions. Over one-third of children between the ages of 5 and 14 are active in some form economic production.
Roughly 80 percent of Nepal’s people live in rural areas and are currently depending on subsistence to support their lifestyles.
According to the Rural Poverty Portal, over 30 percent of Nepalese live on less than $14 per person per month. Overall, 25 percent of Nepal lives in poverty, but in the Mid-Western and Far-Western regions, this number increases to 46 percent.
Who are the poor in Nepal?
Individuals who generally have large families, very small to no landholdings at all, and high rates of illiteracy account for majority of the poorer population. The depths of poverty for Nepal are broken up into various organized categories.
The destitute individuals who have the bare minimal or nothing at all are those who are ill, disabled or are abandoned children. Those who are classified as extremely poor are generally those who are illiterate as well as landless with minimal assets.
Rural Nepalese individuals who have small farms, but are heavily indebted are moderately poor. The final classification is that of “nearly poor” people who are small farmers at the constant risk of falling back into poverty.
In a country that depends heavily on subsistence farming, land ownership has been ‘traditionally concentrated in a feudal system under the monarchy.’ Access to any sort of land for majority of the poor, rural families is extremely constricted.
As a consequence of result of minimal growth in the agricultural sector in Nepal, the rural living conditions have consistently deteriorated. To add to this, the growing population is putting an excess of strain on the land that is cultivable.
In addition to these factors, the environmental disasters play a large roll in the poverty of Nepal. One of the most disaster prone regions, Nepal experiences frequent earthquakes, severe thunderstorms, flooding, landslides and glacial melting.
The caste system in Nepal is also an oppressing factor that keeps poorer individuals from attaining employment. The members of the lowest caste are at an immense disadvantage, often becoming wage laborers for the higher-caste farmers.
On a brighter note, a study conducted by Oxford has found that poverty in Nepal and Bangladesh is reducing at a faster rate than in India.
Between 2006 and 2011, Nepal’s poverty rate has decreased from 64.7 percent to 44.2 percent.
“The success of Nepal and Bangladesh in reducing poverty despite their relatively low income highlights the effectiveness of social policy investments combined with active civil society engagement,” said Dr. Sabina Alkire, director of Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative.
Less fortunate families are often obligated to send their children off to find labor, rather than sending them to school. This continues the viscous cycle of poverty. By shifting the focus to gear towards the importance of education, a simple, slow process towards entirely diminishing poverty could be set into motion.
– Samaria Garrett