Address by Rt. Honorable Mr. K P Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal, to the High-level Virtual Side Event at the UN General Assembly on “Poverty at Crossroad: Using Leadership and the Multidimensional Poverty Indexes to Build Back Better”
24 September 2020 (9:00 New York)
Excellencies the Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I commend the Government of Chile, MPPN and OPHI for hosting this event.
As we begin the decade of implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, progress in poverty reduction should be a primary indicator of assessing our overall performance.
The Constitution of Nepal enshrines several indicators of multiple poverty as fundamental rights of the citizen that include right to food, right to basic education and primary health care, right to clean water and sanitation, right to decent housing, and right to social protection. The constitution guides us to strive for establishing an egalitarian society. Our economic policies are aimed at promoting economic growth with equity and social justice.
Our goal is to end all forms of discrimination, deprivation and improve the quality of lives of our people. We are committed to ensure that ‘no one remains hungry, and no one dies of hunger’. We also aim at securing human security as early as possible to end all forms of poverty in the country.
We have implemented targeted programs to reducing poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and improving delivery of essential services. Education is compulsory up to basic level and free up to secondary level. Primary health care is free for all citizen. Subsidized health insurance scheme has covered a large section of people. Insurance against Covid-19 is also in implementation.
Universal access to renewable energy, basic water supply and sanitation is being achieved soon. Safe and decent housing schemes of the government is offering better housing facility for the poor. More than one third of the people are covered by one type of social protection or the other.
Income generating activities through government targeted programs, micro finance services, and interventions of cooperative and community organizations have been successful to reduce absolute poverty more than one percentage point every year for some years now. All these have contributed for overall reduction of poverty and improvement in human development indices.
Overall, we have institutionalized our approach of looking at poverty through the prism of more than absolute income. Considering poverty as a multidimensional phenomenon, we have considered both the monetary and non-monetary aspects of poverty in our national development strategy.
In partnership with OPHI, Nepal published first Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in 2018. The report identified that the incidence of multidimensional poverty in Nepal has declined by half from 59% in 2006 to 29% in 2014.
The two indicators- nutrition and schooling- in which we were lagging behind have received renewed priority.
Nepal will release updated second report of National MPI within this year reflecting the status as of 2018-19. By aligning with the SDGs, we have set a target of reducing MPI to 11.5% by the end of 2024.
To complement this endeavor, Nepal has undertaken series of Living Standards Survey, Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey, and Demographic Health Survey for monitoring both the monetary and non-monetary measures of poverty. The 12th round of the decennial population census in 2021 will add significant value in this process.
Investing in people and preventing them from re-lapsing into poverty remains the key challenge. In devising appropriate policies, credible MPI data would provide a useful base. However, in a country of diverse geographical, social, economic and cultural conditions like Nepal, we must generate MPI at a much disaggregated level so that resources could be judicially allocated to reduce inequality and meet our aspiration of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ along with eliminating all kinds of inequality.
The COVID pandemic has severely impacted our effort to end absolute poverty and move to reducing all other forms of poverty as soon as possible. We have been making best efforts to protect lives of our citizen against both the health and economic threats posed by the pandemic. I firmly believe that with sincere national endeavor and larger global development cooperation and dedicated support measures, we can overcome this pandemic, achieve economic recovery and move to the path of speedy development.
It is high time that States reorient economic priorities and re-allocate resources for building and maintaining of basic social protection, health care and education.