Natural Resource Management and Livelihood
Nepal belongs to the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs). According to the World Bank, with a per capita income of USD 400 (2009), Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and the poorest in the region. The country is ranked 138 (out of 169) in the Human Development Index (2010). One-third of the population lives below the poverty line of USD 1 per day. According to the Welthungerhilfe/IFPRI Hunger Index 2012, Nepal is one of the countries with an “extremely alarming food situation.”
Nepal has considerable scope for exploiting its potential in hydropower, with an estimated 42,000 MW of feasible capacity, but political instability hampers foreign investment. Additional challenges to Nepal’s growth include its landlocked geographic location, civil strife and labor unrest, and its susceptibility to natural disaster (Nepal Economy Profile 2012).
The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 2.5 million people depend directly on food aid (2006-07). Forty-two of the 75 districts in Nepal are classified as chronically food insecure and 4.4 million people are considered at risk with regard to their food situation (OCHA, 2008).
Approximately 83% of the country’s population is rural. Food and living standards have not however improved in the last years. One-fifth of the population is under-nourished and has no access to clean drinking water. Every second child suffers from malnutrition. The unemployment rate is around 50%. Just under half the population is still illiterate (CIA Factbook 2010). Women and ethnic minorities as well as the Hindu caste of dalits (Untouchables, 10% of the population) are particularly hard hit by poverty.
The majority of the people are smallholder farmers who are practicing in the mountain slopes on small terraced fields or through slash and burn subsistence agriculture. The major crops include maize, millet and buckwheat. Due to low rainfall and a lack of locally adapted irrigation technologies the cultivation of vegetables is problematic, especially during the dry months in winter and spring. Most of household do not produce enough food for their own consumption and suffer food deficit for more than 5 months per year. Food deficiency and malnutrition are widespread. Especially affected are mothers and children. More than 50% of young men are looking for seasonal or permanent work in the major cities of Nepal or abroad in order to feed their families. In this context ASN focus livelihood this year and implemented below mentioned programs.