Experts call on Nepal to adopt a systematic approach to address different forms of vulnerability

12 Aug 2014

imageFROM LEFT TO RIGHT, VICE CHANCELLOR OF KATHMANDU UNIVERSITY, PROF. DR. RAM KANTHA MAKAJU SHRESTHA, VICE-CHAIRPERSON OF THE NATIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION, PROF. DR. GOVIND RAJ POKHREL and UN RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE MR. JAMIE MCGOLDRICK LAUNCHING THE HDR 2014. PHOTO: JOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI/UNDP

Dhulikhel — Nepal needs to adopt a systematic approach to address the different forms of vulnerability amongst its people brought about by exposure to different risks, experts and officials have said.  Speaking at the Nepal launch of the Global Human Development Report, speakers said that significant rates of poverty, high inequality and frequent natural disasters and crises threaten the progress of human development in Nepal and the world.

The Report, entitled Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, offers a fresh perspective on what makes people vulnerable, and proposes ways to strengthen resilience.

“The unfolding tragedy as a result of Sunkoshi landslide is a case in point as to how quickly even people relatively well-off become vulnerable to natural disasters,” said UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Jamie McGoldrick. “Those living at the margins face even greater risks.” 

Dr. Mahesh Banskota, Dean of the Kathmandu University School of Arts, called for increased efforts in capacity building at all levels to address vulnerabilities.

“Diseases follow in post-flood and post-disaster situations,” said Dr. Banskota, elaborating on issues of heightened vulnerability.

“Climate change is expected to impact food production,” said Dr. Madhav Karki, former Director General of ICIMOD, presenting the report. “Climate change has added another vulnerability—aggravating existing challenges.”

Addressing these challenges requires a host of initiatives, including universal provision of social services and a strong system of social security benefits, says the 2014 Human Development Report.

Nepal spends 3% of its GDP on allowances for social protection, said Dr. Govind Pokharel, VC of the National Planning Commission, “Nepal needs to increase or double its GDP by 2022 to graduate from Least Developed Country status and to provide greater protection against shocks.

Across Asia and the Pacific, over a billion people live just above the extreme poverty line, on more than US$1.25 but less than US$2.50 a day. The report asserts that those who face multiple deprivations are especially at risk of falling back into poverty if a disaster or crisis should occur.

More from the Report:

The Report introduces the idea of life cycle vulnerabilities, which arise from sensitive points in life where shocks can have greater impact. It stresses the importance of the first 1,000 days of life, and of the transitions from school to work, and from work to retirement.

The Report urges governments to commit to the universal provision of basic social services and social protection to build resilience, especially for the poor and other vulnerable groups. It argues that countries in Asia and the Pacific do not have to wait to become rich in order to provide adequate social protection or basic social services. It shows that Nordic countries, as well as countries such as Republic of Korea and Costa Rica, were able to provide universal basic social services when their per capita GDP was lower than that of India or Pakistan today. 

Making the case that cohesive societies work better, the Report calls for strong social protections such as pensions and unemployment insurance for countries at all stages of development.

The Report also highlights that a lack of decent, well paid jobs – especially for youth – is a major challenge in Asia and the Pacific. In many countries of the region, youth unemployment is relatively high: 23 percent in Iran, 22 percent in Indonesia, 17 percent in Sri Lanka, 16 percent in Philippines and Samoa and 14 percent in Timor-Leste.  The Report urges governments to fast-track education reform policies and to accelerate broad-based economic growth to create decent and well paid jobs that are essential to improving living standards.

In addition, food insecurity, violence against women, and civil conflict and disaster risks (such as landslides and rising sea levels) linked to climate change further threaten the security of millions of people.

South Asia: 
· No regional country is in the very high human development group.
· The average HDI value for the region, at 0.588, is below the world average of 0.702.

Additional information on the 2014 Human Development Report is available here.
For information about the Human Development Index, http://hdr.undp.org/en/2014-report

ABOUT THIS REPORT: The Human Development Report is an editorially independent publication of the United Nations Development Programme. For free downloads of the 2014 Human Development Report, plus additional reference materials on its indices and specific regional implications, please visit: http://hdr.undp.org 
Full press package available at: http://hdr.undp.org/en/2014-report/press

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

Contact Information

John Narayan Parajuli, Head of Communications, UNDP
9851122684, narayan.parajuli@undp.org