On November 25, the United Nations approved a historic resolution to promote Nepal from the least developed status to a developing one to be in effect from 2026. However, there are concerns about the country’s capacity to achieve this in reality as it is still struggling to uplift the living standards of the people living under the poverty line.
Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights who is currently in Nepal on a 10-day visit, says he critically looked into the challenges of Nepal’s graduation to an upper status as he met different groups of people in the country. Concluding his visit, De Schutter, in this exclusive interview with Onlinekhabar, shares his observation of the living condition of the people from marginalised and other economically poor communities.
In your 10-day sojourn, you must have observed the pattern of poverty here. What do you think are the reasons for poverty in Nepal? Are they different from those in other countries?
The diverse groups in Nepal have also posed a huge challenge. The difference [from other parts of the world] is that poverty exists in certain, separate groups defined by caste, ethnicity and gender, where women are more affected than men. Consequently, this means, even if you have strong economic growth and general progress, some are facing obstacles that need to be addressed to ensure equally spread progress.
Another aspect of inequality, which is not unique but more commonly seen in the country, is the lack of access to documentation like birth certificates, citizenship, and land ownership certificates. Many whom I met informed me that the documents were difficult to obtain but necessary to acquire the social protection funds.
Such factors are difficult to measure or define, but it is a significant problem and they further the reason for poverty.