HDI improves but regional, social inequalities remain


May 15, 2014-

The country’s Human Development Index has improved overall but inequalities between regions and social groups remain despite signs that the disparities are shrinking, said the Nepal Human Development Report (2014) released on Thursday.

The gaps between urban and rural areas and ethnicities have not changed, with underdeveloped regions staying as they were while well-off regions maintaining their status.

The report, in light of Nepal’s commitment to graduate from a Least Developed Country to a developing country, calls for enhancing skills of the population, while bridging the regional and group divide in human potential and investing in youth and agriculture. It argues that Nepal’s potential is hindered not just by persisting geographical inequalities but also those related to social groups, gender and household well-being.

According to the report, the far-western region remains the least developed part, rural areas are in a worse position than urban areas and Dalits occupy the lowest rung in Nepal’s human development ladder.

The HDI—which is largely measured on the basis of life expectancy, education and income—has improved in the areas that have made strides in literacy and education such as Western Hills and Western Mountains.

The Western Hill and Eastern Mountain regions come second and fourth, respectively, in terms of HDI among the nine eco-development regions categorised. “Earning from remittance and income from tourism also improved in these regions,” said the report.

“However, mid-western and far-western Hills; western, mid-western and far-western Mountains and the Central Tarai have been behind in these areas.”

Pitambar Sharma, lead author of the report, said that development in a particular region does not depend solely on access to facilities, but also health, education and awareness that enhance the productive capacity of the people.

From the regional perspective, the Kathmandu valley has the highest HDI score of 0.622, stemming largely from high scores for educational attainment and level of per capita income. Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur are at the top of the four highest-ranking HDI districts. This is the first time in a decade that the HDI has been provided for all the 75 districts. Bajura, Bajhang, Kalikot, Humla and Achham have the lowest HDI for 2011.

“This evidence may now be taken into consideration in the allocation of sectoral budgets at the district level in areas such as drinking water and sanitation,” said Haoliang Xu, UN assistant secretary general, UNDP assistant administrator and regional director, Asia Pacific.

In comparison with rural areas, urban regions have a higher score, but the gap narrows for the period 2006-2011.

Urban HDI values remained constant over the period but they have improved in the case of rural areas. “Remarkably, the difference in life expectancy rates between rural and urban areas has narrowed considerably,” it said. From the point of view of caste and ethnicity, Brahmins and Chhetris take the top spot in HDI values compared to three other groups—Janajatis (Newars excluded), Dalits and Muslims. The pattern was similar in 2006. Hill Brahmins have the highest HDI (0.557) while Madhesi Dalits have the lowest at 0.400.

“Differences in educational attainment largely explain the inequality between high and low HDI values for caste and ethnic groups,” said the report. Though disparities persist between males and females, political and economic participation and power over economic resources have improved over the

last decade.

The gender empowerment measures value has risen across all regions, notably in Tarai, during 2006-11. The report shows district HDI scores and women’s literacy rates are highly correlated. “Why Eastern Tarai is lagging in the index despite access to facilities is lower female literacy,” said Sharma.

the geographical indices

Five districts with highest HDI

Kathmandu    0.632

Lalitpur    0.601

Kaski    0.576

Bhaktapur    0.573

Manang    0.568

Five districts with lowest HDI

Mugu    0.364

Bajhang    0.365

Kalikot    0.374

Humla    0.376

Achham    0.378


Published: 16-05-2014 07:42

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