Nepal

The Crisis in Nepal

Nepal has a population of 30,485,798, a quarter of which lives below the poverty line. Agriculture remains the country’s dominant source of income, with 80% of the population living in rural areas and depending on subsistence farming. In these areas, food insecurity and poor nutrition are major concerns. In addition, rural households have very little or no access to education, primary health care, or sanitation. In particular, the percentage of people living in poverty increases to 45% in the mid-western region of Nepal, and to 46% in the far-western region, where the terrain is rugged, rain is sparse, and the low-quality soil is difficult to farm.

The geography of these regions makes it difficult to stimulate economic activity and deliver basic services. Nepal’s economic growth also continues to be negatively affected by the country’s political uncertainty and concentration of resources in Nepal’s capital city, which marginalizes the areas that need it the most. Despite these challenges, Nepal has made some important strides in mitigating some of the key causes of chronic poverty in the past decade, especially through programs that increase farm wages, allow for urbanization, and reduce fertility rates. But there is still more work to be done, especially within the health sphere, and the inequalities that plague it. Although women make up over 60% of the agricultural labor force, they often face insufficient calorie intake relative to men in the household, and are the victims of a widening gap between genders in terms of access to health care and nutrition. This has, in turn, led to chronic malnutrition among infants, with a higher infant mortality rate for girls than for boys.

Currently, over 600,000 in Nepal are blind or partially sighted, and over 185,000 suffer from some form of curable blindness. Ninety percent of the blind live in rural areas.

Our Response

DCI’s Blindness Prevention program, in partnership with Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh (National Society for Comprehensive Eye Care), addresses one of the worst consequences of inaccessible health care: blindness. With 90% of the blind living in rural areas, DCI and NNJS are focused on establishing a connection between Nepal’s most isolated, rural population and the developed world to allow indigenous technology to keep up with recent advancements in eye care. We are implementing our Blindness Prevention Program in underprivileged areas throughout Nepal, and supporting NNJS in their eye surgery programs. These programs include surgery to correct advanced stages of trachoma, research to evaluate the barriers to and impact of cataract surgeries, and support for various eye hospitals and specialty eye clinics running under NNJS. In addition, DCI and NNJS aim to provide quality eye care services to all segments of the population without discrimination, and create positive externalities for other, interconnected health, social, and economic issues in the process.

Through NNJS’s vast networks, DCI is extending its prevention programs to Nepal and working to both eliminate blindness in its more advanced stages, and tackle various causes of blindness before they occur.

Partners