Nepal makes strides towards Millennium Development Goals
Kathmandu - Nepal has achieved strong progress on several of the eight globally agreed goals related to poverty, education, health and environmental sustainability, according to a report released this week.
While emerging from a decade-long conflict, the South Asian country reports major strides on at least half of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which will be reviewed at a high-level United Nations summit in New York later this month.
While there is striking progress in reducing poverty, in getting children into school and in saving the lives of children and mothers, the national averages also mask significant disparities, according to the country’s third MDG report, released today.
The disparities occur between differing ethnic, social and economic groups, among rural and urban populations and people living in the mountains, in remote areas and on the Terai, or plains.
While poverty dropped from 42 percent in 1996 to 25.4 percent in 2009, with most of the reduction achieved during the last five years, one quarter of the population still lives below the national poverty line and inequality is increasing, the report finds.
Although enrolment rates for primary schools stand at 93.7 percent with parity between girls and boys, more than 200,000 children are estimated to be out of school, and those outside education are the most marginalized and hardest to reach, says the report.
Fewer infants and children under-five are dying in Nepal, with significant improvements between 2001 and 2006. According to estimates for 2009, the infant mortality rate will have dropped to 41 per 1,000 live births from 109 per 1,000 in 1990. The under-five mortality rate is 50 per 1,000 down from 162 in 1990.
Maternal mortality rates are down from 850 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to an estimated 229 per 100,000 in 2010. However, there are clear disparities in the chances of surviving childbirth for women living in cities compared to those living in the hills, and between those with differing educational, income and caste backgrounds.
“Enhancing employment opportunities and reducing inequality and social exclusion remain major challenges,” said the vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission Dr. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, while launching the report on 7 September.
“It is imperative that all the country’s people reap the benefits of development, including the hard-to-reach poor and those living in remote and inaccessible areas, where delivering services is especially difficult.”
The most notable goals and targets that are not yet on track are full and productive employment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Significant challenges also remain in areas like women’s empowerment, protecting biodiversity, providing access to clean water and sanitation and reducing hunger.
While Nepal has already achieved the 2015
Nepal’s UN Resident Coordinator Robert Piper said: “We know what needs to happen to turn these indicators around. Sound policies that are sustained from one year to the next, clear roles and responsibilities for all those involved, greater resources directed to the community level, and a laser-focus on results.”
With five years left until the 2015 deadline for MDG achievement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host about 150 world leaders at a summit in New York on 20-22 September to accelerate progress on the goals.
A Nepali delegation comprising policy makers and senior government officials, led by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, is expected to participate in the summit.
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