About Nepal

About Nepal:

Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia, sandwiched between India and China. It is situated in the lap of the beautiful snow-capped Himalayas and is home to the world's highest peak – Mount Everest.

In addition to the Himalayas, the topography of Nepal also houses the ‘Hills’ and the ‘Terai’ or the plains.  While the Himalayas cover approximately 15% of Nepal, the Hills and the Terai make up for 65% and 18% of Nepal respectively.

Unfortunately the Hills have been subject to an increasing number of environmental disasters, which are due in likelihood to deforestation and intensive farming.  

Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and is a valley surrounded by hills. It is also one of the 75 districts of Nepal and falls within the Central Development Region of Nepal. Nepal has been divided to five developmental regions namely, Far-Western, Mid-Western, Western, Central and Eastern.

Nepal is the 48th poorest country in the world with a population of 28,901,790. (UNICEF 2007)

Half of Nepal's population lives below the poverty line, and about one third of the population live without clear water. These are people who do not have access to basic needs such as food, health and education. Half the population is jobless in Nepal. Most Nepalese live on a $1 day or less. Average income of Nepal is less than $200 a year. About 15% of the Nepalese have access to health services. Most of the poor people live in rural areas yet still a huge percentage of poor people struggle in cities trying to make ends meet. About 80% of Nepalese are farmers and are dependent on agriculture for livelihood.

For almost ten years Nepal between 1996-2006, Nepal underwent a violent conflict between government forces and an insurgent group called Maoists. The conflict claimed more than 13,000 lives and caused thousands of disappeared—those who were abducted or killed without a trace and whose fates are still unknown to their families. Amidst all this, children and women have suffered the most.

After a peace accord was signed in 2006 between the government and the Maoists, the Maoists entered mainstream politics and also won the majority of the seats in the historic Constituent Assembly polls held on the 10th of April 2008. Nepal has also been declared a secular state under the Interim Constitution, which was promulgated on January 15, 2007. The government took positive preliminary steps with respect to religious freedom and government policy contributed to the generally free practice of religion replacing the age-old term 'Hindu Kingdom of Nepal'.

The Maoists had insisted on the abolition of the monarchy and the removal of Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev as King with Nepal becoming a federal democratic state with an elected head of state. The newly-elected Assembly met in the Nepal's Capital Kathmandu on May 28, 2008 and abolished the monarchy that had reigned for 240 years. There was a polling of Constituent Assembly(CA) members and out of a total of 564 Assembly members, 560 voted to end Nepal's monarchical rule. The proposal declared that Nepal had become an independent, indivisible, sovereign, secular and an inclusive democratic republic.

On 19 July 2008, two months after the departure of King Gyanendra, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav of Nepali Congress was elected as Nepal's first president and Parmanand Jha of Madhesi People's Right Forum (MPRF) was elected the vice president by winning the majority votes of CA members.
Nepal is now recovering from its past wounds of conflict and massive underdevelopment. The development sector needs to gear up if Nepal is to achieve it's Millennium Development Goals. Twenty-eight percent of Nepalese primary school age children are not at school, and of these the majority are girls. Only 50 percent of students starting grade one reach grade five. In Nepal, challenges such as poverty, shortages of schools and teachers in isolated areas, high dropout rates in primary school, low enrolment in secondary school and poor facilities preclude children from receiving education.

Among adults, the overall literacy rate is around 57%. A little less than a quarter of women can read and write. Lack of education, skills, or business training makes it hard for people to feed and support their families.

Each year, in Nepal, more than 50,000 children die with malnutrition as the underlying cause for more than 60 per cent of these deaths. Half of the children are underweight and three fourths of the pregnant women are anaemic.

Maternal mortality rates are high due to weak health systems with limited access to emergency obstetric care, skilled attendance and the overall poor status of women. Neonatal mortality rates are also unacceptably high due in part to lack of community awareness in appropriate care for the newborn.

Despite Nepal's high overall coverage of accessibility to drinking water, access to improved water for deprived, disadvantaged communities and conflict-affected rural and fringe urban areas remains low. Two-thirds of Nepalese are still without access to toilets

The HIV and AIDS epidemic poses a serious threat to the population of Nepal, especially the lives of children and young people. It is estimated that around 75,000 people are infected with the virus, a quarter of them women. Traditional high-risk groups include injecting drug users, sex workers and migrant or transport labourers but there are emerging new high-risk groups such as spouses of migrant workers. Nepal’s low education, literacy and health knowledge, especially for women, makes it an ideal breeding ground for HIV-AIDS unless ways are found to communicate its dangers throughout the country.
Source: World Vision International