Nepal has made successful strides in reducing poverty from 25.2 percent in 2011 to 23.8 percent in 2013. The remittances sent by Nepali migrant workers has played an instrumental role in slashing the poverty figures. An estimated 5 million Nepalis are working abroad as migrant workers. But the numbers belie a harsh reality: they come at high social costs and are ultimately unsustainable if not managed properly. Huge disparities and inequalities between regions and social groups exist. For example, access to sanitation is, according to Census 2011, approximately 21 percent in Saptari and Siraha districts, compared to over 95 per cent in Kaski and Bhaktapur. Sanitation coverage in urban areas is 91 percent, while the number drops to 55 percent in rural areas, with less than 10 percent coverage among the Madhesis and Dalits. While making significant progress, Nepal fell short of meeting all targets under Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the end of 2015. In terms of poverty reduction, the failure to “achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people,” was notable. The massive earthquake in April 2015 further undermined efforts to reduce poverty by taking lives of thousands, destroying public and private infrastructures worth billions of dollars. An estimated additional 700,000 people were pushed back to poverty, while thousands more lost their livelihood opportunities for decent living. The underdevelopment of Nepal’s trade and industry, the low volume of exports, low agricultural productivity, lack of access to affordable credit and the weak law and order situation all contribute to the lack of good employment opportunities and the relative weakness of Nepal’s economy. UNDP is committed to supporting Nepal in achieving all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, including ending poverty.
UNDP works closely with government agencies and communities in promoting inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods with an aim to end poverty and provide decent living standard for people of Nepal. Nepal has tremendous potential for development and subsequent job creation through sustainable use of natural resource based enterprises in the rural areas, where 80 percent of Nepal’s population lives. However, lack of awareness, education and skills to utilize existing resources continues to perpetuate underemployment and underdevelopment. Nepal also has vast hydro potential, yet 30 per cent of its population has no access to electricity. Even those with access suffer from frequent power outages. There is a strong link between access to energy such as electricity, income generating opportunities and improvement in living standards, including better results in health and education. To help address challenges and tap opportunities, UNDP’s work in Nepal on poverty and sustainable development has been designed around three broad pillars: employment creation, access to energy and policy support in pro-poor development planning and monitoring. more