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Building a better future for Nepal's children
For many people, mention of Nepal brings to mind stories of adventure, success and tragedy on Mount Everest, or perhaps the legendary reputation of the Gurkhas. Yet there is far more to the country – from its amazing, unspoilt scenery and wonderfully friendly people, to the immense problems associated with being one of the poorest, least-developed and most mountainous countries on Earth.
Why are there so many orphans in Nepal?
As is typical of such a poor country, there has been a constant battle against disease and malnutrition with three quarters of families reliant on subsistence farming to survive. In addition, accidents and the ten-year struggle for democratic government against Maoist guerrillas which finally ended in November 2006 have resulted in a larger number of orphaned children.
Why doesn’t the Nepalese Government help more?
Government income is also limited as most of the population are too poor to pay any tax. Only 49% of the country can be used for agriculture and there are few natural resources available. Being landlocked, it also has to rely on all its goods and fuel being transported via India. Mountain roads are essential for communication, but with floods and landslides an everyday occurrence that can leave roads blocked for days (as seen recently in the BBC’s ‘World’s Most Dangerous Roads’), it places a significant strain on the limited finances the government can raise. Consequently they are very dependant on the foreign aid grants and other support it receives from the international community.
Progress in Nepal
With the recent more stable political situation, the government is now working towards improving its exports – particularly textiles, carpets, jute, sugar and grain. They are also encouraging more foreign investment – given the natural topography, there is obviously great potential for schemes such as hydro-electricity if only the willing investment and partners can be found.
The wonderful scenery and friendly people also make the country a great destination for visitors, and efforts are now underway to encourage more tourism. Going to Everest base camp may be a serious endeavour, but you don’t need to be a climber to enjoy the sheer beauty of the rest of the country!