Children and Hunger Program
Humla District comprises the most isolated communities in Karnali and are at a distance of 2-3 days walk from the district headquarters of Simikot. Simikot itself can only be reached by mule/foot which is 4 days walk from the nearest vehicle road, or by small propeller plane or helicopter. This district is amongst the poorest in Nepal, which in turn is one of the poorest countries in Asia.
Reducing hunger and improving nutrition amongst children with disabilities and other marginalized children in remote mountain villages of Nepal.
Political situation At local level:
There is no elected local government and hence the government officials, VDC secretary and Local Development Officers are not elected, but provide services based on the suggestions of local political parties. In most cases, one VDC secretary is looking after 2-3 VDCs and hence stays most of the time in the district headquarter. People are suffering from a lack of government services. In the absence of local elections, it has been very difficult to hold the local government and political parties accountable to the right-holders. (VDCs – Village Development Committee is the lowest level Nepali government administration. Typically on VDC covers approximately 9 wards – each of which is generally a separate settlement or village)
With a population of some 27.5 million people and a GNI per capita income of USD 7,30, Nepal remains amongst the poorest countries in the world. It is the second poorest country in Asia. Nepal ranks 145 out of 188 countries in terms of 2015 UNDP Human Development Index . Nepal’s Human Poverty Index is 30.9%. This means that more than 50% of its population live on less than a dollar a day. 81% of the population live in rural areas, pursuing agriculture as their main source of livelihood, most on small plots that produce insufficient food for survival (this accounts for 40% of the GDP). The WFP categorizes almost 50% of the population as food insecure, in part as a result of droughts, flooding and other seasonal disasters. The average life expectancy of males is 57.6 years and that of women 57.1 years. Nepal is the only country in the world in which life expectancy for women is lower than for men. The literacy rate for women is 28% and for men 62%.
The Karnali region:
In the Mid-Western Development Region of Nepal, consist of 5 districts among the poorest of Nepal. According to the Poverty ranking statistics of Nepal, Humla ranks 73rd out of 75 districts. According to the data of Poverty Alleviation Fund, 73% of households have resources to meet their basic needs only for 3 months a year, placing them below the poverty line. Cultural Context: Within the whole target area, people have strong traditional beliefs (dhami-jhakri) and practices regarding gods and witches. Menstruation period and delivery period of women is perceived as apabitra (impure) and hence women are not allowed to enter inside houses and to take milk products. There are certain types of domestic tasks like cooking, serving and cleaning, which are culturally assigned for women and girls. Cultural beliefs also discriminate against disability; to be disabled is shameful as it is perceived to be a punishment for sins committed in a previous life. Hence, children with disabilities are hidden away to suffer in silence. This creates enormous difficulties in surveying, registering and then helping children with disabilities.
Gender and Disability Context:
Although the Government of Nepal (GoN) has developed good laws, policies and provisions for the protection and promotion of human rights and to provide an enabling environment, they are not yet all practiced. As for issues of children with disability, they remain largely hidden in the families and societies of Humla, and statistics and surveys on their living conditions are vague. The discrimination against people with disabilities is deep-rooted in the families in the project area. Mission East conducted an assessment on the condition of people with disabilities especially women to highlight the fact that, due to the social stigma and links with social prestige, girls and women living with disabilities are facing the most severe discrimination among all marginalized groups. Survey findings showed that many women with disabilities are not even registered as such: 55% of women and girls with disabilities do not have citizenship certificate, 91% do not have disability card, 94% have no access to assets, 47% no access to education, 84% no access to health and 78% do not have the confidence to start a family. (WWS and Mission East survey under CISU project - 2013).
Local Governance Context:
Given the absence of local service providers from the government side (VDC, Agriculture, Health services), people (especially people with disability) are deprived of basic health services. The most basic unit of the government services is the VDC which is responsible for all basic services including social security. But due to the absence of elected local bodies, VDCs are not fully functional and the VDC secretary is the only person that can be held accountable. All the VDC decisions for planning, resource allocation and spending are done with limited participation of target communities and right holders. This has been hindering the participation of vulnerable and marginalised groups (especially people with disability, Dalit and women) in local level planning, implementation and monitoring process. The few elites and influential local political leaders close to the VDC secretary enjoy the benefits of local government services but the lack of proper management of such processes is leading to the exclusion of some beneficiaries from the development process.
To contribute toward Government of Nepal Zero Hunger Challenge Initiative (ZHC) for marginalized children in the remote mountainous districts of Nepal
- Enhance sustainable production and use of diversified crops for improved nutrition amongst children with disabilities and other marginalized children in remote mountain villages
- HEAD Nepal improves its organisational, financial and programmatic capacities to enable sustained growth