Why do we work in Nepal?
As many of you know, Nepal is home to some of the most breathtaking views in the world. Yet, with this beauty comes immense contrasts – the mountains make life extremely difficult for 83% of the population. As a result of limited access to water, health care, schools and infrastructure, 55% of the population live below the poverty line, 41% of children are chronically malnourished, 1 in 17 children will never reach their 5th birthday, 45% will not complete primary school and 20% will never go to school (NDHS 2011 and Unicef 2012).
Between 1996 and 2006, Nepal went through over a decade of civil war and political turmoil, making life even more difficult for children who are left to fend for themselves. This long armed conflict has had an adverse impact on the economic and social conditions of the country which has allowed child labour to flourish. 40% of the child population may be classified as working children. Among these working children, 51% (1.6 million) are working as child labourers, with 600,000 involved in hazardous work. Children, especially girls, are also sexually exploited for commercial purposes, especially in prostitution and pornography (Nepal Child Labour, ILO and Central Bureau of Statistics Nepal Report, 2011). Unicef estimates that 5,000 children are working or living on the streets and more than 8,000 have been orphaned (State of the World Children, 2012).
Despite almost five decades of foreign aid, Nepal continues to be one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with more than half of its population living below the poverty line (less than US$ 2 a day) and with one of the lowest life expectancies in Asia.
Nepal is a country at a crossroads, emerging from a decade-long conflict that formally ended in November 2006 and now transitioning from conflict to peace and from a monarchy to a republic.
Nepalis have now entered a new phase in the country’s history – politically and socially. However for the millions of Nepalis still living below the poverty line – the ones who were most exposed to exploitation and abuse during the conflict period – inequality, caste based discrimination, lack of basic services, are still widely prevalent (World Bank 2012).
Despite little arable land, almost 38 per cent of the population makes a living from agriculture, which is also the foundation of the Nepalese economy and contributes to 82 per cent of its exports. The second source of income is tourism -bringing international trekkers to the beautiful Himalayan mountains.
Establishing efficient and transparent governance and administration, developing basic infrastructure (electricity, health, services, and roads), accelerating economic development and eradicating poverty are still Nepal’s major development challenges. Year-long controversies among political parties on power-sharing have contributed to Nepal’s economic growth lagging far behind that of the booming economies of neighbouring countries (Unesco 2011).
- 55% of the population lives below the poverty line with only US$ 2 per day
- In 2011, Nepal was ranked 157th position out of 187 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI takes into account three indicators: educational attainment, health measured through life expectancy and income)
- 83% of the population lives in rural areas where electricity, phones, roads, clean water, or schools rarely exist
- 5,000 of children are living or working in the streets
- 10,000 to 15,000 girls are estimated to being trafficked to India every year
- 41% of children are chronically malnourished
- 6 children out of 100 will die before their fifth birthday
- 42% of children aged 5 to 17 years work to supplement family income -20% in acceptable work, 12% in detrimental work and 8% in the worst forms of child labour
- 45% will not complete primary education
- 20% will never go to school
- Only 35% of women delivered in a health facility
- 58% of women received antenatal care
- 68% of women living in rural areas gave birth without a skilled health provider
- 61% percent of employed women are not paid for their work at all
- 43% of women are literate (versus 70% for men)
Sources: NDHS 2011 and Unicef 2012
These figures demonstrate the real need to support children and young people in Nepal, who make up 40% of the population. They suffer from the effects of poverty including poor nutrition and healthcare, lack of access to education and training, and dangerous child labour practices and child marriage.
Girls and young women in Nepal are discriminated against and exploited, especially those from the lower castes. “In addition, women in Nepal are predominantly engaged in agriculture; few have skilled manual jobs, and women are much less likely than men to be engaged in the professional, technical, and managerial fields. Further, women lag behind men in educational attainment, literacy, and exposure to mass media, all of which are critical contributors to women’s empowerment, and exert considerable influence on the development of their personality and on strengthening women’s position in the household and in society” (NDHS 2011)
CWS is empowering the Nepalese people to change the lives of their most deprived children and women.
See our CWS film for more on why Nepal's children need our help.
Where do we work?
CWS and our partners work with children in the western region of Nepal, at present specifically in Kaski and Lamjung districts both in rural mountainous region and in the slum communities of Leknah and Pokhara.