5 Facts About Poverty and Disabilities in Nepal

Disabilities in NepalNepal is an Asian country locked between India and China. With more than 40% of the population living below the poverty line, Nepal is “one of the least developed” countries in the world. Despite the country’s hardships, Nepal is making great strides to improve its condition, which opens up possibilities to lower the poverty line. Here are five facts about poverty and disabilities in Nepal.

Disabilities Prevalence

UNICEF reported that in 2011, there were 1.9% of Nepali people with a disability, such as those with physical, vision, hearing, speech and mental disabilities. However, this number may be higher. UNICEF also states that the National Planning Commission (NPC) conducted a situation analysis in 2001 that suggested that 30.3% of those with disabilities were preventable and were a result of a lack of resources.

Handicap International (HI) reported that of all the people with disabilities, only 1% of them can find meaningful employment and 78% of children with disabilities are not in schools.

Poverty in Nepal

As stated in the beginning, 40% of the population is below the poverty line. The people of Nepal largely rely on agriculture as a means of work, while those who are disabled could be at an even greater disadvantage as they often cannot work.

Some factors linked to poverty in Nepal include natural disasters, complications in politics, lack of resources and inequality. Despite ongoing efforts to lower the poverty rates, it is a difficult task, one further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic pushed an estimated 70 million people in Nepal into poverty due to loss of income, according to Outreach International.

Poverty Rates Are Improving

Even with all the challenges, the poverty rate has decreased from 25% in 2011 to 3.6% in 2023, according to the World Bank. Furthermore, the economy could grow from 1.9% in 2023 to 3.3% in 2024, with more anticipated growth beyond this year. Some of these changes are due to changes in its federal, state and local government, and organizations helping aid the country along to a new and improved state.

Improving Conditions

Despite the high number of disabled children not in education, organizations such as HI are working to make education equitable for all children in Nepal, allowing Nepali children with disabilities the opportunity to learn. It is working to improve the quality of life for all Nepalese people with disabilities and provide access to rehabilitation and help them with social inclusion.

Some of these initiatives include early intervention for children with disabilities and adding inclusive sports and other extracurricular activities for these children. HI seeks to provide training for parents or guardians of these children with disabilities to help them better understand how to care for them.

HI works with the local government to implement policies to support education. It also works to increase access to rehabilitation centres and improve the services themselves, such as physical therapy, prosthetics and other medical aid.

Changing Government Can Lead to Lower Poverty Rates

Nepal as a country is undergoing a massive change, only recently shifting from a monarchy to a federal republic. This monumental change also encourages lowering the poverty rates and economic growth. In 2017, Nepal had an election and the new government began establishing itself in February 2018, the World Bank reports.

That same year, the World Bank sent the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) until 2023, to support the country’s growth, political stability, and inclusivity for the poverty-stricken areas and marginalized people, such as disabled Nepali people. The CPF also sought to support the country’s public services, job growth and better resilience against changing weather patterns among many other objectives.

It mainly prioritizes economic growth via jobs and “strengthening public institutions for effective economic management, service delivery and public investments not only at the national level but at sub-national levels,” according to the World Bank. It does, however, seek to encourage inclusivity and diversity for many of its marginalized groups and improve gender equity.

One of the results of the CPF is that in the 1950s, only one out of 1,000 children went to school, but due to these changes, nearly all children now have access to education.

Nepal is a country undergoing immense changes in government and poverty and disabilities in Nepal are making improvements as many organizations have stepped in to aid the Nepali people. While there’s still much work to do, Nepal is on its way to helping its people lead better quality lives.

– Sabrina Betterly

Sabrina is based in Drums, PA, USA and focuses on Good News for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Flickr

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