Needs of the poor: Implement findings

The poor families should be provided identity cards that will enable them to receive ‘social security allowance’ and ‘compulsory health insurance’. This allowance can be used by the poor for total health care

In Nepal about a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. In 2010, the Nepal Living Standard Survey found that 23.8 per cent families earned below $1.25 a day which is the national line of poverty.

The condition of the people is continuously deteriorating in the last six years with the government’s lethargic poverty control efforts.

The government has also lost control of the market. As a result, there is strong price hike in daily used commodities. In the last decade, inflation has hovered around two digits annually with about 13 per cent in 2008 as per the NRB.

However, many economists believe that the inflation figures of NRB are utterly superficial as they have found from their sample study that the real market inflation could be much higher.

Such market inflation has made the average life very difficult.

Since 2010, when the poverty level was calculated by CBS there had been no substantive employment generation activities and no mega projects, no mega constructions or factories.

The economy has also been squeezed by the earthquake and border obstruction in 2015. As a result, there are more unemployed going abroad for work.

According to a governmental source about 3.7 million have already gone abroad other than in India and among these ‘labour migrants’ 80 per cent are young aged 15-35 and mostly from rural areas.

Every day, 15-20 hundred remittance seekers fly from Tribhuvan International Airport. Also, as a rural area is associated with poor people, this data indicates the poor are more unemployed and more remittance seekers.

Rising inflation and unemployment indicate a rise in poverty. Families who were earning just above $1.25 in 2010 are hit by poverty now with their down turned earning capacities.

It is obviously a failure of the government in addressing problems of the poor and implementing poverty alleviation plans. Some recent surveys of organizations like UNDP and CBS indicate a deteriorating capacity of the poor.

The Annual Household Survey of CBS published in September 2016 shows that household consumption capacity of rural areas, associated with poverty, has declined by about 2 thousand rupees from last year.

What do the poor want can be answered by using this latest report of CBS that reveals many interesting findings that none of the previous surveys have shown.

Access to education and medication (hospital, doctor and medicine) are two crucial social indicators. This survey shows that in educational spending and medication, the richest and the poorest population is highly segregated.

The poorest 20 per cent families spent more than 20 per cent of their earning in medication and less than 6 per cent in education while the richest 20 per cent of the population spent more than 17 per cent on education and 9 per cent in medication.

Does it indicate the rich are less concerned about their family health and the poor towards child education?

Rather, it indicates a compulsion of the poor to spend heavily for their family’s health. Although, the government claims free medication at government health centers there is incongruity in the claim as at government health centers’ free medicines, pathological tests and good doctors are unavailable.

So, eventually the poor have to seek such services from expensive private clinics/hospitals. The poor spend the least in education which impacts on their children’s employment and earning capacity.

Also, the less educated poor are less conscious about health and hygiene. But with preventive measures and healthy food, most of the rich have good health.

Saving of the rich from medication is utilized for good education to children at good schools. The poor send their children to free public schools where teaching is hardly done as they have management problems and political interventions.

Thus, most children from the poor families get poor education, have bad hygiene and sanitation and are trapped in poverty. To assist the poor the government should seek updated statistics of the poor families. Many governmental and NGOs have done some work for such identification.

There should be a regular mapping of the poor. There should be an enumeration of marginal poor families who may be earning just a little more than $1.25 but are very likely to fall in the trap of poverty.

Families in such grey area should also be grouped under the poor families. After identification, they should be provided identity cards that will enable them to receive ‘social security allowance’ and ‘compulsory health insurance’.

This allowance can be used by the poor for total health care which is not covered by health insurance. Health service of the government in most rural and remote areas are in pathetic conditions.

At remote villages and most mountain or hill villages the poor who have serious illness cannot receive treatment as there is no good health post nearby and the sick have to be carried by helicopters to urban hospitals, which the poor cannot afford.

Identity card for the poor should also enable them to access discounted education, transportation, and food on quota basis proportional to their family size.

Addressing poverty was the focus of national plans since the ‘Fifth Five-Year Plan’ of 1975.

The government has announced achieving MDG by downsizing poverty population to 21.6 per cent.