Working-age population at 57%
KATHMANDU, Nov 27: The country´s population has gone up to 26,494,504, with an annual growth rate of 1.35 percent. The population in 2001 was 23.1 million and the annual growth rate was 2.25 percent. The population has increased by 3.3 million in a decade.
The Final Population and Housing Census 2011, released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on Monday, shows the lowest inter-censual change in population growth rate in the last five decades. The current rate is 14.44 percent in contrast to 22.2 percent in 1971, 30 percent in 1981 and 25.2 in 2001.
The census report was presented to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai at a function at the National Planning Commission.
Experts say the significant drop in population growth rate is due to the 1.9 million Nepalis comprising migrant workers or those not present in the country for more than six month at the time of the national census exercise in June 17-27 last year.These have been excluded from the total count.
PM Bhattarai unveil National Population and Housing Census 2011. (Photo: Republica)
“The current growth rate does not meet the figure for population stabilization as population growth is considered to have stopped only at an annual growth rate of 1.2 percent,” said census expert Dr Bal Kumar KC, adding, “Almost all the absent population belongs to the reproductive age group and this group has shown a decline in growth rate.”
Similarly, the absent population has also more than doubled from 762,181 to 1.9 million, following political instability and lack of employment in the country even after the conclusion of the decade-long Maoist insurgency, he added.
The male population has been recorded at 12,849,041 while the female population stands at 13,645,463, with the number of males per 100 females (sex ratio) reduced from 99.8 in 2001 to 94.2 currently.
Among the fastest decadal population growth in the districts, Kathmandu tops the chart with 61.23 percent whereas Manang has a negative growth rate of -31.8 percent. Negative growth rate has been recorded in 27 districts across the country. The population of Kathmandu Valley has increased to 2.51 million from 1.7 million in 2001.
The Tarai region has recorded the highest growth rate of 50.27 percent (to 13,318,705) with an 8 percent annual growth of its total population, while the populations in the hill and mountain areas constituted 43 percent (11,394,007) and 6.73 percent (1,781,792) respectively. The urban population in the 58 municipalities has increased to 17 percent (4,523,820) of the total population compared to 13.94 percent (3,227,879) in the last decade.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, accepting the census report, said the report is a progressive indicator of the socio-economic and cultural status of Nepali citizens. Though the findings on the overall development of the country are not satisfactory, the literacy rate of 65 percent and the figure for women´s ownership of fixed assets are positive.
The literacy rate has improved to 65.9 percent from 54.1 percent in the past decade. The male literacy rate is 75.1 percent in comparison to the female rate of 57.4 percent. Similarly, the highest literacy rate of 86.3 percent has been recorded in the capital, whereas Rautahat has the lowest at 41.7 percent.
PM Bhattarai expressed concern over the finding that 64 percent of the people are still dependent on firewood as cooking fuel. The figure was 65.2 percent in 2001.
However, the use of LPG gas as cooking fuel has increased from 7 percent to 21 in a decade. Some 10.3 percent of the people use cow-dung as cooking fuel while kerosene, biogas and electricity are among fuels in nominal use.
The report found that female ownership of fixed assets has increased from last decade´s 9 percent to 19.71 percent this decade.
National Planning Commission Vice-chairman Dipendra Bahadur Kshetry said that the increase in property inheritance by females is the impact of the legal movement for women´s right to property.
“The increase in female-headed households in the country from 14.87 percent to 25.73 is also positive,” Kshetry said.
The report also portrays a shifting demographic, with the working-age population of 15-59 year-olds increasing from 54 percent (12,310,968) in 2001 to around 57 percent (15,091,848) in 2011.
While Nepal is considered the 11th most vulnerable country in terms of earthquake hazard, the census report showed that only around 10 percent of the people live in RCC-pillar houses whereas 44.21 percent of houses are built with mud-bonded bricks.
Meanwhile, the final population stands at 126,305 less than the preliminary report of the national census of 2011. With this, the annual growth rate has also decreased from 1.4 in the preliminary findings to 1.35 percent.
The difference in the preliminary and final findings emerged following data processing in detail, according to officials at CBS.
“The preliminary report published in September last year was calculated manually on the basis of all forms collected from the 75 districts,” said CBS Director General Uttam Narayan Malla.