Much of Nepal’s poverty can be linked to decades of political instability and
oppressive rulers. Although Hindus make up the majority, 81.3% of the population, there
are deep caste divisions within the populace. Individuals who are desperately poor are often
members of lower castes, whilst most people who receive higher incomes are members of
a higher caste. Untouchables, indigenous peoples, women, and children suffer the most
poverty in comparison to other caste groups. Youth who are affected by poverty often seek
other opportunities by migrating to the Indian and gulf cities in search of paid menial jobs.
The income distribution inequality perpetuates this growth and will continue to ruin the
Nepalese economy if changes aren’t made in economic policy to distribute the wealth more
fairly, and to close the gap between the rich and poor.
There have been several poverty alleviation approaches that continue to unfold in
Nepal: state-centered poverty alleviation; NGO/INGO-centered poverty alleviation;
community-centered poverty alleviation; and market-centered poverty alleviation. These
four approaches set plans and programs to alleviate poverty in Nepal with agriculture plans,
skills trainings, credit group development, technical and financial support to villages,
formation of community groups, and employment opportunities.
More than 45% of children perish before the age of five, and 21% of those that
make it past five are underweight. Less than half of the population has access to safe
drinking water or proper sanitation, which leads to serious health issues, especially
affecting children who do not have access at home or at school. The Ministry of Health and
Population Department of Health Services is the governing body in Nepal that oversees
medical care. The overall purpose of the Department of Health Services (DoHS) is to
deliver preventative, promotive, and curative health services as one of the three
departments under the Ministry of Health (MoH). There is a special division that focuses
on Child Health and Welfare under the Department of Health Services, known as the Child
Health Division. The Child Health Division is responsible for providing a broad array of
programs to improve the availability and access to high quality preventative and primary
health care to children in Nepal. The Ministry has developed awareness programs for
mothers to teach them to recognize the symptoms of childhood illnesses. The goal is to
decrease sickness of children, but also to make mothers aware of serious illnesses and how
they present themselves.
The healthcare system in Nepal has a serious lack of appropriate materials and
workers, and the Ministry of Health requires the support of many other organizations to
keep the system running. Many hospitals lack advanced medical equipment and resources,
and therefore rely on donations from British and American hospitals. Doctors without
Borders, the American Red Cross, UNICEF, and USAID are major organizations that
designate time and money to assisting Nepal.