KATHMANDU, July 11: A report prepared by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has revealed that the fertility and mortality rates in Nepal have been fast declining in the recent years.
The average annual population growth rate in Nepal between 1961 and 2001 was 2.25 percent, which declined to 1.35 percent between 2001 and 2011, states the report released on the eve of the Population Day on Tuesday.
Nepal, like other the South Asian countries, has been undergoing rapid demographic changes during the last few decades. The working age population between 15 to 64 years has been increasing in Nepal.
In 1991, the working age population was 52.9 percent of the total male population and 55.3 percent of the female population. In 2011, the male working age population had increased to 57.9 percent and the female working age population had increased to 61.6 percent. The relatively lower proportion of working age men to women is likely attributed to the fact that many men leave the country for foreign jobs, according to the UNFPA report.
“The circumstances in which the average Nepali lives is still far from the targets the SDGs seek to achieve. Overall, poverty has declined but it has worsened in the high mountain region and in urban centers,” reads the report.
“School enrolment for girls has improved substantially but the drop-out rate is high. Sexual discrimination is high among women and girls in the tarai, among Dalit and women with no education. Sex-selective abortion practice appears to be increasingly evident in some parts of Nepal as 12 of Nepal's 75 districts, which comprise over 25 percent of the total population, show sex ratio at birth over 110 (per 100 females),” the report further states.
Spatial distribution of population shows an ever declining share of the mountain and hill population compared to the tarai population. In 1971, the proportion of the total population living in the mountain and hill regions combined was 62 percent, this declined to 50 percent by 2011.
It is projected that by 2031 this proportion will shrink to 47 percent although the land mass in the mountain and hill regions is 77 percent, says the UNFPA report.
“Among the seven federal provinces, Province 3's share of total population is 21 percent followed by Province 2 with 20 percent, provinces 1 and 5 have 17 percent each, Province 7 ten percent and Province 4 nine percent. The ranking of the projected populations for the seven provinces remains the same, even until 2031 (CBS, 2014).”
As part of the formulation of its new United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for 2018-2022, Nepal is aspiring to graduate from the least developed country (LDC) to a middle-income country by 2030 by achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The National Planning Commission (NPC) has also endorsed a new three-year Development Plan, the 14th Plan (2016/17-2018/19).
Given the enormous data need required by the SDGs, Nepal is not currently in a position to produce the data and statistics required for monitoring progress in the attainment of all 17 goals and 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda adopted by the world leaders at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on September 25, 2015, says the UNFPA report.
The report projects Nepal's demographic transition and resulting population momentum using key demographic variables for the next 15 years (2016-2030) in the context of the new federal structure of the country.
The total population of Nepal comprises of over 125 caste/ethnic groups. The largest group is Janajati (36%), followed by Chhetri/Bahun (31%), tarai castes and Dalit both (14%) and the minority Muslim (4%). In four out of seven provinces, the largest group is Janajati, in two provinces it is Chhetri/Bahun and in one province it is tarai castes.
The report entitled UNFPA Nepal 2017 Population Situation Analysis of Nepal is notes the absence of a large number population estimated at around 1.92 million as of 2011 as they are outside the country for work or study. Nepal's population of 26.5 million as per the 2011 Census is projected to grow to 30.4 million by 2021 and 33.6 million by 2031.