There's absolute chaos on the streets of Kathmandu as cars, people, cows, dogs, monkeys, motorbikes all try to get from one place to another in a huge rush. The chaos is like quick sand – the more you move, the faster you sink. Frustration is in the air, and rising, particularly because the traffic jam matches the political deadlock. More than four years of waiting for the constituent assembly to put together our constitution has resulted in nothing but major disappointment. The general feeling among those I know is one of pessimism. But what are the actual facts on economic development? Turns out Nepal is progressing on many frontiers of economic development, such as health and education.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight development goals to be achieved by 2015. The eight MDGs break down into 21 quantifiable targets that are measured by 60 indicators. The MDGs are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations-and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.
Nepal is one of the 189 countries committed to the MDGs. As reported by the UNDP, a look at where Nepal stands in terms of achieving the MDGs shows that that Nepal has already met some of the MDG goals and will potentially be able to achieve most of its MDG targets by 2015, except for those relating to full employment and addressing climate change.
Despite the decade-long conflict and political instability, progress has been remarkable in a number of areas. For example, the proportion of people living below the national poverty line has fallen to 25.4% and net enrollment rate has increased to 93.7%. Also, gender parity has been achieved in enrolment for primary education, under five mortality has been reduced to 50 per 1000 live births, and maternal mortality per 100000 live births has been reduced by half in the past ten years.
But what is worrying is the rise in income inequality. While there is striking progress in reducing poverty, in getting children into school and in saving the lives of children and mothers, the national averages also mask significant disparities, the UNDP writes. Enhancing employment opportunities and reducing inequality and social exclusion remain major challenges in Nepal.
Despite the political mess, there is progress happening on the economic development front - there is light at the end of this tunnel.