Nepal ranks 200th out of 230 countries in GDP and is heavily dependent on remittances, which amount to 29% of GDP. Agriculture is the main livelihood for 70% of the population.  


Vulnerable young man used as transport.

Vulnerable young man used as transport.

Current Challenges

Lack of Safe and Healthy Work Opportunities – Annual per capita income is $742 (USD equivalent). 22% of the population are unemployed. Nepal ranks 145 of 173 countries in its prevalence of worker exploitation, due in part to child labor and unsafe working conditions. Young men and women are especially vulnerable, often seeking risky jobs abroad, which makes them susceptible to sex trafficking and slavery.

Lack of Governmental Assistance – There is little aid for the poor or elderly, food assistance, free healthcare clinics, national health insurance, or division of family services.

Inadequate/inaccessible Education – Only 72% of adult males and 49% of adult females are literate, and Nepal ranks 110 of 144 countries on the global gender gap which measures gender based access to resources and opportunities. Children, especially the poorest, do not continue to post-basic education (10th grade) and the quality of education at all levels remains a problem. Only 30% of children receive early childhood education.

Poor Healthcare and Nutrition – 40 of every 1000 children die before age 5. 40% of children suffer from severe to moderate stunted due to lack of nutrition. 

Systematic removal of house fronts for failed city planning.

Systematic removal of house fronts for failed city planning.

Poor Infrastructure – There is unreliable electrical power and low-quality transportation networks with frequent load shedding 7 or more hours per day. The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment conducted after the earthquake found that total damage and losses resulting from the earthquake amounted to about $7 billion, and reconstruction needs amounted to about $6.7 billion. 7 million people or 24% do not have access to electricity. Only 37% of people have adequate sanitation facilities.

Frequent demonstrations bring police in riot gear.

Frequent demonstrations bring police in riot gear.

Poor and Unstable Government – The country ranks low on international governance indicators such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2015 (130 out of 175 countries) and Political Stability and Absence of Terrorism. Political turmoil frequently causes schools and businesses to close, and a fearfulness of violence during demonstrations paralyzes the country and economy.

Nepal Earthquake and Aftermath – Nepal was hit by massive earthquakes in early 2015, which damaged or destroyed infrastructure and homes and set back economic development. Political gridlock in the past several years and recent public protests, predominantly in the southern Tarai region, have hindered post-earthquake recovery and prevented much-needed economic reform.  

Kathmandu Durber Square World Heritage Site destruction after the earthquake 2015.

Kathmandu Durber Square World Heritage Site destruction after the earthquake 2015.

Sources: Human Development Report 2015; Unicef: State of the World’s Children 2016; Global Gender Gap Report 2016; World Bank Report 2016