About Nepal

 

Basic Facts and Figures about Nepal
Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is bordered by China to the north and by India to the south, east and west. The Himalaya mountain range runs across Nepal's northern and western parts, and eight of the world's ten highest mountains, including the highest, Mount Everest, are within its territory.

Full name: The Republic of Nepal
Capital: Kathmandu
Currency: Nepalese Rupee (NPR)
Land Area: 147,181 km²
Population: 29 Million
Religions: Hindu 80.6%, Buddhist 10.7%, Islam 4.2%, Mundhum 3.6%, Christian 0.5%, others 0.4%.
Languages: Nepali is the official language


GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE COUNTRY

Political Summary
Nepal has seen rapid political changes during the last two decades. Until 1990, Nepal was an absolute monarchy running under the executive control of the king. Faced with a people's movement against the absolute monarchy, King Birendra, in April 1990, agreed to large-scale political reforms by creating a parliamentary monarchy with the king as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of the government.

Despite achieving democratic rule in 1990, the country soon faced internal armed conflict after the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) launched an insurgency in 1996. While in its early stages this conflict was confined largely to the mid western regions, it steadily gained momentum, and the response of the security services further alienated forces who committed serious violations of international humanitarian law. Many of the victims were civilians targeted by the armed actors or caught up in indiscriminate violence. The estimates of those who disappeared during the decade of armed conflict range from 1,000 to 5,000 people. Tens of thousands were displaced as a result of impunity for serious human rights abuses. Numerous minors, including girls, were involved in the conflict as Maoist army combatants, while the armies of both sides utilized minors as messengers, sentinels, informers, cooks and in other support functions, including paramilitary activities. The conflict also increased women’s visibility. Many women and girls joined the Maoist army, comprising an estimated 40 per cent of combatants. In villages and across civil society women began to assume leadership roles. Meanwhile many other women and girls became more vulnerable and were subjected to displacement and sexual exploitation.

Nepal faced a deepening crisis of governance after the collapse of the first ceasefire and peace talks between the Government of Nepal and CPN (M) in 2001 and the suspension of the Parliament in 2002. Several ceasefires were attempted over the years. In November 2005, the Seven Party Alliance of parliamentary parties and CPN (M) signed a 12 point understanding vowing to “establish absolute democracy by ending autocratic monarchy”. This ground breaking understanding, coupled with the Nepali people’s strong desire for peace and the restoration of democracy, helped establish the foundation for the emergence of a broad-based people’s movement. In April 2006, mass demonstrations across the country, with strong participation by women and marginalized groups, brought an end to the King’s direct rule, leading to the restoration of Parliament and a mutual ceasefire. This opened the way for further negotiations between the Alliance and CPN (M).

On 21 November 2006 the parties signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, consolidating earlier agreements and understanding, and declared an end to the war. This historic achievement was the culmination of a year long process of negotiation between the signatories and an expression of the widespread desire of the people of Nepal to end a conflict that had claimed more than 13,000 lives. All parties agreed to the election of a Constituent Assembly as the foundation for a more inclusive democratic system that is able to address the country’s persistent problems of social exclusion.

The movement in 2006 brought about a change in the nation's governance: an interim constitution was promulgated, with the King giving up power, and an interim House of Representatives was formed with Maoist members after the new government held peace talks with the Maoist rebels. In 2007 the interim government announced election for the Constituent Assembly to be held on 22 November, but the election was later cancelled and a period of political crisis followed. However, on 10 April 2008 the election for the Constituent Assembly was successfully carried through and on its first meeting on 28 May the newly elected assembly, led by the former communist rebels, by an overwhelming majority abolished the monarchy and declared the country a republic, ending 239 years of royal rule in the Himalayan nation.


Economic Summary
Nepal's gross domestic product (GDP) for the year 2005 was estimated at just over US$39 billion (adjusted to Purchasing Power Parity), making it the 83rd-largest economy in the world. Agriculture accounts for about 40% of Nepal's GDP, services comprise 41% and industry 22%. Agriculture employs 76% of the workforce, services 18% and manufacturing/craft-based industry 6%. The greater part of agricultural produce is grown in the Terai region bordering India.

The spectacular landscape and diverse, exotic cultures of Nepal represent considerable potential for tourism, but growth in this hospitality industry has been stifled by recent political events.

Nepal receives US$50 million a year through the Gurkha soldiers who serve in the Indian and British armies and are highly esteemed for their skill and bravery. The total remittance value is worth around 1 billion USD, including money sent from Persian Gulf and Malaysia, who combined employ around 700,000 Nepali citizens.

A long-standing economic agreement underpins a close relationship with India. The country receives foreign aid from India, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, China, Switzerland, and Scandinavian countries. Poverty is acute; per-capita income is less than US$ 470. The distribution of wealth among the Nepalis is consistent with that in many developing countries: the highest 10% of households control 39.1% of the national wealth and the lowest 10% control only 2.6%.

The government's budget is about US$1.153 billion, with expenditures of $1.789bn (FY05/06). The Nepalese rupee has been tied to the Indian Rupee at an exchange rate of 1.6 for many years. Since the loosening of exchange rate controls in the early 1990s, the black market for foreign exchange has all but disappeared. The inflation rate has dropped to 2.9% after a period of higher inflation during the 1990s. Nepal's exports of mainly carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute goods and grain amounts to a total of $822 million. Import commodities of mainly gold, machinery and equipment, petroleum products and fertilizer total US$2 bn. India (53.7%), the US (17.4%), and Germany (7.1%) are the main export partners. Nepal's import partners include India (47.5%), the United Arab Emirates (11.2%), China (10.7%), Saudi Arabia (4.9%), and Singapore (4%).

 
Human Development
Nepal is one of the Least Developed Countries. These face considerable challenges in their efforts to reduce human poverty and to achieve national development priorities, e.g. the Millennium Development Goals.1 Nepal is ranked 157th out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index, according to the Human Development Report (HDR) 20112, and 113 out of 146 countries in the Gender-related development Index (GDI). For example, Nepal’s life expectancy at birth is 68.8 years old, adult literacy rate is 59.1(2005-2010), the maternal mortality rate is 830 per 100,000 live births(2003-2008), sex ratio at birth is 105.2 (male births per 100 female births/ data from 2010. The HD framework (or paradigm) is central to the UN's development work, and the UN takes a human rights-based approach when programming joint cooperation (i.e. UNDAFs) in identifying whose rights are not met and how their  entitlements may be met in the future, specifically through disaggregating data and performing a capacity analysis.
 


Volunteerism in Nepal
There are many forms of volunteerism in Nepal, mainly in two areas: socio-cultural/religious and development. Volunteerism, as the basis of social relations, solidarity, self-help, social capital, local capacity, etc., is an integrated part of traditional Nepalese culture. In Nepali, the word for volunteer or volunteerism self service is Swayamsewak. Traditional volunteer activities that promote self help, sustainability and participatory approaches are common within communities. Public goods such as village trails and pathways, temples, inns, water taps and wells used to be built on a voluntary basis. Relief work during disasters such as floods, earthquakes, famine and epidemics are mostly done on a voluntary basis. Many problems in communities are even today solved though voluntary services. Self-help community groups such as Guthi (for the protection and conservation of temples) or Dharma Bhakari (for the collection of food reserves) are examples of traditional voluntary work in Nepali society.

 
More information on Nepal
Geography: Geography of Nepal is uncommonly diverse. Nepal is of roughly trapezoidal shape, 800 kilometres (500 mi) long and 200 kilometers (125 mi) wide, with an area of 147,181 square kilometers (56,827 sq mi). Nepal is commonly divided into three physiographic areas: the Mountain, Hill, Siwalik region and Terai Region. These ecological belts run east-west and are vertically intersected by Nepal's major, north to south flowing river systems.

Climate: Nepal has four distinct seasons. Spring, from March to May, is warm and dusty with rain showers. Summer, from June to August, is the monsoon season when heavy rains turn the hills lush and green. Autumn, from September to November, is cool with clear skies. This is the most popular trekking season. Winter, from December to February, brings cold nights with fog in the early morning turning clear and pleasant in the afternoon. Winter is the time for snow in the mountains.

 

BRIEF INFORMATION ON THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM IN NEPAL
The United Nations Country Team in Nepal (UNCT) is the organ that unites all the international, non-governmental agencies present in Nepal, namely: The World Bank, ADB, FAO, OHCHR, OCHA, ILO, WHO, UNAIDS, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF etc.

In Nepal, as in the majority of developing countries, the Resident Representative of UNDP is designated as the Resident Coordinator of the UN System. As the designated representative of the Secretary General and team leader for the United Nations System organizations, the Resident Coordinator assumes the overall responsibility for, and coordination of, the UN System at the Nepal country level. The Office of the Resident Coordinator provides support to the UNCT, and monitors the functioning of the UN theme/working groups. As a priority task, the Office of the Resident Coordinator also supports the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), which is the common UN response to the country's development challenges (in pursuit of the MDG’s and other national development priorities). The UNDAF usually emerges from the analyses of the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and is the next step in the preparation of the United Nations system country program and projects of cooperation.  

 

The UNDAF in Nepal covers the period of 2008-2010 and it is guided by the goals and targets of the Millennium Declaration of 2000, by consultations held on the draft National Interim Plan (July 2007 – June 2010) and by consultations held with civil society and donors.

Peace and development for an inclusive society are at the core of the UNDAF, which builds on the analysis of the 2007 Common Country Assessment (CCA). The following four interlinked UNDAF outcomes have emerged as priorities for the UNCT’s supports to Nepal:
 
A) National institutions, processes and initiatives to consolidate peace are strengthened;

B) Socially excluded and economically marginalized groups have increased access to improved quality basic services;

C) Sustainable livelihood opportunities are expanded, especially for socially excluded groups in conflict affected areas;

D) Respect, promotion and protection of human rights are strengthened for all, especially for women and the socially excluded, for sustained peace and inclusive development.