Past the golden age of prosperity achieved through North-South trade and agriculture almost 500 years ago, poverty has been a known fact associated with Nepal’s economic face. So few in Nepal enjoy the life of the riches and so many live in abject poverty, it is heart-wrenching. This topic, therefore, deserves a full study, and we must find ways to break this cycle of poverty that is running for too long. This topic explores the economic distribution and state of poverty in Nepal. It also explores how children are affected by poverty and what could we possibly do to alliviate it.
State of Poverty in Nepal
Nepal is the poorest country in South Asia and ranks as the twelfth poorest countries in the world. However, over the last decade the country has made considerable progress reducing poverty but is still falling behind. Urban poverty declined from 22% to 10% and rural poverty declined from 43% to 35%.
About four fifths of the working population live in rural areas and depend on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. In these areas the majority of households have little or no access to primary health care, education, clean drinking water and sanitation services. Life is a constant struggle for survival.
Some poor families in Nepal are often obliged to send their children to work rather than to school. In this way the poverty cycle is reused in the next generation. It is estimated that about one quarter of children in Nepal between four and five years old are engaged in some kind of family or wage labor.
In Nepal, only less than half of the population has access to safe drinking water and about half the children below five years of age are underweight. The average age that people live in Nepal is about 54 years while countries like Canada have achieved life expectancy of about 80 years. This is mainly due to the lack of clean water, poverty and unavailability of basic health care.
United Nations has done extensive studies on the level of poverty in Nepal. The poverty chart shown below is prepared by UN to show how poverty differs from region to region in Nepal. It shows that Kathmandu and surrounding area and the East Nepal have lesser poverty and the West generally suffers from grinding poverty.
Education and Poverty
Education in Nepal was not available to everyone; it was rather restricted to the ruling families. Since 1951 things have changed radically and to this day the Nepalese government is continually committed to the improvement, development and expansion of education in Nepal. However, there are severe problems in how education is delivered in Nepal.
In 1990, there was change of government in Nepal. A fair and democratic system was supposed to take root. But people in power were listening to all the foreign countries who give aid and loan to Nepal and they were not listening to the people of Nepal. Foreign countries asked Nepal to privatize everything end Nepal did it. They introduced private education from kindergarten to university level. Suddenly, rich had good education but poor had education even worse than before. This created big social problem in Nepal and a decade long war was ensued starting at 1996. The main cause of this war is a feeling of injustice towards the poor and rural people. Children born in poor families in Nepal still do not have access to proper education and almost two-thirds of the adult population in Nepal cannot read or write.
What could we do to reduce poverty?
There is much to be thought about before we can develop proper ideas to reduce poverty in Nepal. Many things have to be done right for this to happen. But, that does not mean that we cannot initiate something little today.
As a beginning step of our journey, we can start helping out a neighbor friend or family in Nepal. We can educate our friends in Canada about all the difficulties and misfortunes of ordinary people of Nepal. Possibly some of our friends in Canada would want to know more about Nepal and help in our efforts. Perhaps we may help some public schools of Nepal improve the delivery of education to their students. We may help them by providing interesting books, educational materials, and so on. We may be able to send some volunteer teachers from Canada to improve the education.
If we think about it, there is quite a lot we can do to help. But we have to let people of wealthy countries think why aren’t they excited enough in helping? Or do they wish to help but the help is not going where they want it to go?
It is said that only 17% of the land is used. We have to seriously think of the 83% of the unused land can be utilized to develop some new endeavors to generate income to alleviate poverty in Nepal? Can there be tourism? Can there be rocks, plants that can be converted into exportable goods? We we could find working ventures in this, it would be a huge help to decreasing poverty in Nepal.
Although Nepal is poor it shouldn’t just be known for the poverty, there are lots of natural resources that are worth a lot. These resources can be used to decrease poverty. Some of the many natural resources are quartz, water, timber, hydropower, scenic beauty, small deposits of lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore and much more.
- Poverty in Nepal by Bhuban B Bajracharya NSSD Nepal – 2001 | Archived version in pdf
- NSSD Country Dialogues: A collection of Reports and Status Reviews on Nepal
The content of this page is developed by Sony Subedi, a Grade 7 student of Mother Theresa Catholic School, Ottawa, Canada. The Nepali Language Class, to which Sony is a student, is made possible due to collaborative efforts of Nepalese Canadian Association of Ottawa (www.nepalese.ca) and Ottawa Carleton District School Board (ocdsb.ca).
After our students research all the material and write their material with the best of their abilities, our teachers correct them and enhance the grammer and writing to make them presentable to all people around the world.