Development Dialogue

Development Dialogue is a language of contemporary discourses on human development which aims to stimulate each entity of the society for a new history of humanity. It stands for communicating the problems that people face and hence is more value-based than other units of human life. Envisioned with better quality of human life it admires the imagination of ordinary citizens, their daily concerns and necessities and circulate these elements in policy articulation.

11:25 AM

Maiti Nepal …Turning Lives Around

“Being a CNN Hero doesn’t make us proud but it reminds us that the problem still exists and we need to join hands to fight against it.” - Anuradha Koirala

When a bad situation befalls you, do you buckle down and leave it to fate? Or do you stand up, fight for your right and turn around to make things right?

When Maiti Nepal founder Anuradha Koirala had the misfortune of becoming a battered wife and suffered from her husband’s abuses, she had the courage to fight back and walk away. Not many in a society where women are expected to be submissive and complacent to their spouses would have done that.  But Anuradha did more. Not wanting to go back to an abused life or see others like her suffer the same fate again, she did what other women during that time didn’t have the courage to do…she founded Maiti Nepal in 1993.       

Maiti Nepal is a haven for women and children who have nowhere to go, especially the trafficked and abused. It works not only to provide shelter for them but also to seek justice for the victims.  Since then, Maiti Nepal has established three prevention homes, eleven transit homes, a hospices and Teresa Academy.
Its programs include awareness campaigns on sex trafficking, rescue operations for trafficked women and girls, apprehending traffickers, providing legal support to the needy, women empowerment programs, and providing anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to HIV infected children and women. It also provides educational support to the children and women who have a desire for learning and psychological counseling, support, and life skills to girls/women at risk of being trafficked.

The organization’s feats have earned Anuradha the Courage of Conscience Award from The Peace Abbey in 2006, the. CNN Hero of the Year Award in 2010. The United States government has also given a two-year grant of $500,000 to Maiti Nepal in April 2010. Anuradha to date, has received 30 national and international awards for her achievements in advocating for children’s and women’s rights.

Problems at Hand:

Maiti Nepal is just one among many other NGOs that continue to battle the prevalent and humongous problem on human trafficking. The problems are complex ranging from funding, endangering lives of volunteers and victims, resistance or difficulty in reintegrating and rehabilitating victims, to lack of government support. Added to those difficulties, Maiti Nepal’s operations were also criticized for using extreme measures to deal with the problem. They have been accused of “forcibly rescuing” victims in brothels particularly in instances when the victims themselves refuse to be rehabilitated.

Though programs were launched and laws were passed to protect victims (Labor Act of 1992, the Human Trafficking Control Act of Nepal of 1986, and the National Human Rights Commission Act of 1993, 11th Amendment Bill of 1997, National Plan of Action (NPA) against Trafficking in Children and Women for Sexual and Labor Exploitation in 2001), studies made show the need to increase law enforcement efforts against all types of trafficking. The lack of enthusiasm by some government officials also point to the reality that some have been found to be complicit in trafficking. Corruption contributes to the problem. Most traffickers remain free because they can buy their way out by bribing authorities. This “power” they have over authorities lessen the victims’ trust on law enforcers for fear of retaliation. Like many societies, victims also tend to be viewed as the guilty party and blamed for their situation and may even end up imprisoned instead of the trafficker. 

Furthering the Cause:

The laudable efforts of Maiti Nepal and other NGOs in rescuing and rehabilitating victims will be difficult to achieve without government support. That there is an initiative and determination by Maiti Nepal and other NGOs to combat trafficking has made collaboration by government with NGOs inevitable albeit the lack of enthusiasm and support by some.  

The need to increase law enforcement efforts against trafficking is critical to mitigating if not altogether eradicating the problem. Campaigns to changing the mindset of society to respect the rights of victims, promote awareness of victims’ legal rights and providing for their reintegration and rehabilitation are just as essential.

With about10,000 Nepalese girls mostly between the age of nine and 16 trafficked every year and sold to brothels in India alone, programs to repatriate Nepali victims of trafficking have to be established. This is where Maiti Nepal works hand-in-hand with authorities to help rehabilitate the victims and provide them with the means to survive and be self-sustaining.

Through workshops, education, legal assistance, basic needs programs, the victims are able to get back on their feet and gain independence to provide for themselves to secure their daily needs.

With NGOs like Maiti Nepal creating awareness and actively advocating against human trafficking, victims have a chance of making a new and better life for themselves.

2)      Maiti Nepal -
5:45 AM

An essay on the right to food 

Eating is a basic biological necessity for human beings. When a person does not get adequate food, he suffers from hunger. Hunger has a harmful effect on human health and on the quality of life. Malnutrition is the main cause of many deadly diseases. The lack of nutritious food halts the  psychical and intellectual development of hundreds of children. The fight against hunger has long been recognized as an important goal for the international community. The first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) commits to halve between 1990-2015 the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.  However, the number of undernourished people has increased over the past years. According to statistics, there was  around one billion  undernourished people worldwide in 2012. Africa, Asia and South America face the biggest food-related problems. 

International law recognizes the right to food  as a basic human right. It aims to  protect the right of all human beings to feed themselves in dignity, either by producing their own  food or  by purchasing it. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) the right to food does not imply that people should be given food for free.  However, it implies that enabling environment should be created, so that people could produce food or access it through the market. To purchase food, a person needs sufficient incomes, consequently, the right to food requires states to ensure employment and social protection policies enabling citizens to realize their right to food. Furthermore, if people cannot get food due to the reasons beyond their control e.g. after a natural disaster, the government or international community should provide food to ensure their survival.

The right to food is enshrined in several international treaties. “The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” recognizes the “fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger”. The right to food is also stated in 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights,  Convention on the Rights of the Child and others. There are also a number non-legally binding resolutions, declarations and recommendations concerning the right to food. In 2012, the Food Assistance Convention was adopted requiring  it’s signatories to  provide at least a minimum amount of food aid for those in need.

Despite these legal efforts, the hunger still persists today and millions of people cannot exercise their right to food. Why? Firstly, most international commitments are not legally binding. Even after signing them, states may not implement these commitments fully or lack adequate resources to put them into force. Furthermore, the reason of world hunger is not a scarcity of food, but the unequal distribution of food and the lack of access to it by deprived persons. Experts claim that sufficient food is available or could be produced from current resources globally,  even in those countries where large numbers of people suffer from malnutrition. Wars, natural disasters, the concentration of resources in the hands of a small group of wealthy people-all these reasons may limit the access of the poor to food.  No doubts, that bad governance, corruption, mismanagement of resources are  also among the major causes of hunger and poverty in many countries of the world.

2:30 AM

2013-the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. As the  global demand for water rises fast, the objective of this International Year is to raise the awareness about the importance of water to human well-being and sustainable development.  

Water is the basic necessity to sustain life.  The accessibility and quality of water resources are fundamental to human health. However, today around 900 million people still lack access to clean water supplies.  Furthermore, as population grows, water as a resource will become scarcer in the future.  Many people around the world suffer not only from the scarcity of water, but also from diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. More than 80% of diseases like diarrhea or dysentery are the result of contaminated water. Water-borne diseases is the second leading cause of child death.  

The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7C states :”Halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”.  Access to water and sanitation is also declared as  a human right. Securing the access to clean water is critical  in helping to achieve other MDGs on reducing the  poverty, achieving child and maternal health, reducing  child mortality. The adequate supply of clean water could stop the spread of dangerous water-borne diseases and significantly improve public health and human well-being.

Nepal is one of the Asian countries with the highest level of water resources. However, the country faces serious problems related to water management. Only 10% of the country’s groundwater potential is utilized and for many families the adequate supply of water is out of reach. Rural areas are often remote from water supplies and only 31 % of Nepal has sanitation coverage. According to government statistics, more than 4.4 million people in Nepal do not have regular access to safe drinking water.  The pollution of flowing streams with waste is also high. Furthermore, in some places arsenic occurs naturally in ground waters and causes a contamination problem. There is no simple solution for the problems mentioned above. The active involvement of international organizations, NGOs and the government are crucial for providing clean and safe water to the population. There are some NGOs working to provide safe water and improved sanitation in Nepal like  WaterAid,  the World Water Organization, Nepal Water for Health. However, still lots  should be done to ensure that all  people in Nepal and in many other regions of the world have access to safe water and water-related services.

In 2013 the  UN will organize a large  number of seminars, workshops and other events related to water education, water diplomacy, cooperation in providing safe and clean water. Hopefully, these messages will reach policy-makers and others in power. Providing adequate access to safe water is one of the most important development goals and it should be a priority for the governments and international organizations.  



 Joint G8 Science Academies’ Statement on Water and Health,

Dr. Suresh Das Shreshtha, “Water Crisis in the Nepal Himalayas”


2:07 AM

Poverty Elimination : Pre cursor


There is widespread impression among the Nepalese intelligentsia, foreign scholars and residents of
developed/rich countries that Nepal’s economic growth has not reduced poverty, that globalisation has
worsened poverty and/or income distribution and there are 100 of millions of hungry people in Nepal.

These arguments are buttressed by recourse to Nepal’s ranking on several social indicators. Esoteric
debates about the comparability of survey data and gaps between data add to the confusion and
allow ideologues to believe and assert whatever information suits the argument. What are the basic facts
about poverty, income distribution and hunger at an aggregate level? This paper reviews the available data
and debates on this subject and comes to a common sense view. It then tries to link some of the outcomes
to the policy framework and programs of the government.

The broad theme that emerges is that the failures on this front, apart from the indirect effects of growth, are linked directly to the failure of governance. This failure has many dimensions; the misallocation of government resources, the failure to follow norms of social benefit-cost analysis that were the reason de tar for the introduction of national
planning, the neglect of public and quasi-public goods that are the most fundamental justification for the
existence of government and a gradual (over decades) but progressive deterioration in the quality of
governance. This conclusion differs radically from the conventional wisdom (national and international)
about Nepal’s poverty, social indicators and income distribution. Even if treated as a hypothesis it merits
debate and further analysis.


A reasonably standardised large sample consumption survey has been carried out every five years
by Sample Survey since 1972-73 (the earlier surveys are not strictly comparable). Based on these surveys a consistent series for the consumption distribution can be constructed. This is shown in Table 1. If we ignore the 1977-78 data for the moment, we find a noteworthy result. The rural income distribution has improved progressively (but very gradually) from 1972-73 to 1999-2000 and this can be seen at every level. Thus for instance the share of the poorest 10%, which was 3.7% in 1972-73 increased to 3.8% by 1983, to 4.3% in 1987-8 to 1993-4 and to 4.4% in 1999-2000. The same pattern is found at every level of cummulation (Technically there is “Stochastic
Dominance,”). Thus the new situation is Pareto superior to the earlier one, reducing the importance of
measure such as the ‘Gini' coefficient.

Another way to look at the result is from the perspective of the eighties and nineties. In this case
1977-78 constitutes the situation prior to the start of the eighties. Therefore ignoring 1972-73 we again
find that the consumption distribution has improved continuously (though very gradually) during the
eighties and the nineties. Each rural consumption distribution during the eighties stochastically dominates
the previous distribution based on large sample surveys. In common parlance citizens at every level of
income have shared in the fruits of growth since 1980-81.

There are numerous controversies regarding the measurement of poverty. The most important one
relates to the adjustment of individual consumption levels as derived from a survey, by the ratio of the per
capita consumption from the National account statistics to the survey mean for the same item. Such an
adjustment leaves the distribution of consumption unaffected while changing the calculated poverty rate.
Before 1993 such an adjustment was routinely made in calculating poverty rates, after 1993 it has been
discontinued. The World Bank’s Country Economic Memorandums for Nepal however introduced the
change in methodology several years earlier.


We can also use the survey data to determine the relationship between the national poverty rate
derived from the survey and the all average all Nepal per capita GDP as calculated from the survey. This
helps us skirt/avoid the controversies arising from the discrepancies between data and differing judgement about which is superior for what purpose. As both the poverty rates and the average consumption are derived from the same data set, this yields a consistent picture of the evolution of poverty rates over time as well as its relationship to average consumption. As official poverty rates are not available for early decades we use the World Bank poverty and average consumption data from 1950 to 1999.
It is clear from figure 2 that there is a linear relationship between aggregate poverty and average
consumption.6 A one Rupee increase in average real monthly consumption expenditure raises 1% of the
population above the poverty line. This implies that in Nepal, given our democratic political system, in
which the poor are fully represented, growth of aggregate income/consumption is a sufficient condition for
the reduction of poverty.
5 Poverty in 1999-2000
The most recent controversy regarding poverty estimates relates to the manner in which the data
was collected in the 1999-2000 survey. Briefly there are three categories of goods in the consumption
surveys: Food products that are purchased frequently (daily/weekly), semi-durable goods that are purchased
with moderate frequency (monthly/quarterly) and durable goods that are purchased occasionally
(annual/biannual or less). To obtain optimal recall it would be appear to be best to use the 7 day recall
period for the first category, 30 day for the second and 365 day for the last. The National sample surveys
have been rightly experimenting with these periods, but perhaps without giving due regard to the
implications for comparability of poverty estimates over time. In the 1999-2000 survey, for the first time
the same set of households were asked to give their food consumption for 7 days and 30 days, thus making
it non-comparable with earlier periods when only the 30 day question was asked.7 It was subsequently
discovered that there was another source of non-comparability. The use of the 365 day recall period for a
sub-set of commodities in 1999-2000, whereas the 30 day recall was used for these commodities earlier.8
Different scholars have tried to make adjustments and re-calculate the poverty rate (Head count ratio),
based on the official methodology. According to these the poverty rate was between 26.1% and 28.5% in
Nepal in 1999-2000 (table below).
Nepal is still a low income country. Its Per capita GDP measured at purchasing power parity is in
the 33rd percentile i.e. 33% of the countries in the World have a lower per capita income then us (Table 3).
A more realistic comparison is however with the medium-large countries defined as those with 2003 GDP
at PPP greater than or equal to $ 15 billion. For this set of countries Nepal is in the 23rd percentile i.e. only
about 1/4th of medium-large countries are poorer than us, 3/4th of them are richer. The position has
improved considerably since 1980 when we were in the 16th percentile of all countries and the 10th
percentile for medium-large countries.
Poor countries generally have higher rates of poverty. We should therefore not be surprised to


The FAO defines about 19% of the people in developing countries (828 million) as hungry, while
the proportion of Hungry in S. Asia is asserted to be about 20% (254 million). The World food programme
on the other hand claims that nearly 50% of the hungry in the World live in Nepal and 35% (350 million)
are food insecure. Recall that 26.1% to 28.5% of the population has been found to be poor in 1999-2000,
where the former is the official figure. What are the facts about hunger

The proportion of households that were hungry during any part of the year, by this definition (the
authentic voice of the poor in Nepal) was 15.7% in 1983, 4.5% in 1993-4 and 2.1% 1999-2000.

It is useful to look at these numbers in relation to poverty, because logically the number of hungry
people must be a fraction (less than 100%) of the poor for any reasonable definition of poverty. More
formally the line defining the ‘very poor’ or ‘hungry’ must logically lie below the poverty line. Thus the
hunger ratio must be lower that the poverty ratio. The ratio of very poor/hungry to the poor may in general
decline, stay constant or rise, depending on the distribution of consumption in the lower half of the
distribution. In 1983 an estimated 33.9% i.e. more that 1/3rd of the poor were hungry at some point in the
18 Do we believe in “Voices of the Poor,” or don’t we? Is it only if it is a small selected group of poor?
year. This proportion declined to 12.2% in 1993-4 and further to below 7.7% in 1999-2000.19 Thus not
only has poverty declined over the 1980s and 1990s, but the proportion of the poor who are hungry has also
declined. This is precisely what we would expect given that the consumption distribution has consistently
improved for the bottom 40% of the population.
That 18.5 million people went hungry and 260 million people were still poor half a century after
Independence is matter of great sadness for the nation. Do we need to exaggerate/ magnify the problem to
convince ourselves of its seriousness or to gather the will to solve it?

Only a few indicators of health and education are available on a continuous basis and for earlier
periods. On the health side Mortality and life expectancy data is available since 1960-61 and on the
education side literacy data is available from the same date. This allows us to compare the performance of
these over the two phases of growth and to see whether they are consistent with the data on poverty and
hunger. It should be remembered that these indicators are a) very strongly correlated with per capita
income of the household. b) The quantity & quality of public and quasi-public goods and services have a
have a critical influence on the basic health and education indicators in low income countries. These
include public health measures (control of communicable diseases & epidemics), public education
(nutrition, personal hygiene, ORT), the supply of clean water, sewerage and sanitation and primary

All the available health indicators, with one exception, show that the annual rate of improvement
has accelerated (or remained unchanged) during phase II above that which prevailed during phase I. The
most significant is the pace of improvement in under – 5 and infant mortality. The rate of decline in infant
mortality has almost doubled to an average of 2.5% per annum between 1980-1 and 2003-4. The rate of
decline of under-5 mortality has increased from 1.7% per annum between 1960-1 and 1980-1 to 2.8% per
annum between 1980-1 and 2003-4. The female and total life expectancy gap is also closing at a faster rate
Estimated Cost
What is the cost of eliminating poverty and hunger in Nepal? That of course depends on the extent
of poverty, which is currently mired in academic debates about the measurement of poverty. There is
however universal agreement that in the years from 1993-94 to 1999-2000 the poverty rate (HCR) was
between 25% and 35%. We can therefore skirt the esoteric debate about the precise change in poverty
between 1993-4 and 1999-2000 and its level in either year by considering three numbers. For each of these
years we order the households/person by consumption level and identify the ones which are 25%, 30% and
35% from the bottom. That is we identify in each year the consumption level of the person(s) who would
be just at the poverty line if the poverty rate was 25%, 30% and 35% respectively. Then we calculate the
income transfer needed for every body below that level to be brought up to the level. This data is
summarised in the table below.

Income Transfers
It can be argued that the ideal (most efficient) social welfare policy is a direct transfer of income to
the poor through a negative income tax. In a developed country this would be very easy. How can we
transfer these amounts directly to the poor, the needy and the disadvantaged in a poor country? The
answer, by setting up an Nepalese version using a modern smart card system that delivers cash and/or
subsidies to the poor based on their entitlements as per specified parameters and norms.

Nepal’s poverty ratio of around 22% in 1999-2000 is in line with those observed in countries at
similar levels of per capita income. The ratio is relatively high because we are relatively poor/ low income
i.e. with low average income. 90% of the countries in the world have higher per capita (average) income
than Nepal. The number of poor is very high because our population is very large, the second highest in the
world. Contrary to hints, illusions and allegations, the large number of poor has nothing to do with income
distribution. Our income distribution as measured by the Gini co-efficient is better than 3/4th the countries
of the World. The consumption share of the poorest 10% of the population is the 6th best in the world.
Where we have failed as a nation is in improving our basic social indicators like literacy and
mortality rates. Much of the failure is a legacy of the three decades of Nepalese socialism (till 1979-80). The
rate of improvement of most indicators has accelerated during the market period (starting 1980-81). The
gap between our level and that of global benchmarks is still wide and our global ranking on most of these
social parameters remains very poor. This is the result of government failure. Government overstretch,
misplaced priorities and deteriorating quality (corruption) has resulted in a failure to fulfil the traditional,
accepted functions of government like public safety & security, universal literacy and primary education,
public health education (superstition & quackery), provision of drinkable water, sanitation drains & sewage
facilities, public health (infectious & epidemic diseases), building roads and creating & disseminating
agricultural technology. Consequently the improvement in social indicators has not kept pace with
economic growth and poverty decline and has led to increasing interstate disparities in growth and poverty.

7:13 AM

As We Celebrate the First International Day of The Girl Child

As we celebrate the first International Day of The Girl Child this year, at least 10 million girls every year  continue to be pulled out from schools to be married off, pay off family debts or work as child labourers. Girls throughout the world face higher rates of violence, poverty, or discrimination.  They are either exploited or thrown into dire poverty, their chance of living better lives greatly diminished by the lack or deprivation of the opportunity to be educated.

The International Day of The Girl Child puts emphasis in promoting the importance of girls' education, equal treatment and opportunities for girls around the world in various areas such as education, law, nutrition, health care, freedom from violence and abuse, empowerment, and eliminating the tragedy of child brides.

It is tragic that their youth is stolen from them when they are married off at such a young age, exposed to human slavery, or poverty. Child brides banished into slavery or sexual exploitation are common stories. Some experience extreme suffering of being physically brutalized and sexually abused into prostitution by their own spouses or relatives. The fact that most of these young girls hardly have an education worsens their condition. They become dependent on their spouse and unable to support themselves. They are exposed to the responsibility and health risk of early pregnancy and motherhood.  These are realities that face the world today.

As part of collaborative efforts among nations, governments have agreed on child brides and girls' education as among major global concerns that have to be resolved. The treatment of females as secondary or non-priority members of the family however slows down progress in eliminating the practice of child brides and making education available for all. It comes with the recognition that to be able to achieve these, there is a need to promote gender equality and provide an avenue for females to be educated.

Awareness campaigns and strategies launched by the United Nations, governments and volunteer groups have helped narrow down the gender gap and provided more opportunities for girls to have an education and avoid early marriage. Though there have been marked developments in narrowing the gap, the reality is that the problem still persists among many countries where females are regarded as the inferior gender. This in effect has stunted the rapid development of these countries. The challenges ahead are humongous. In this day and age, girls speaking out and asserting their rights continue to be threatened. Such is the case of 14-year old Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai. She survived a shot in the head by Talibans who vow to try killing her again. Her “crime?” – fighting for girls’ right to have an education.    

The growing concern on the plight of young girls trafficked, enslaved or exposed to some form  of abuse or discrimination  shows that people will not take this quietly. Open protests and girls continuing to fight for their rights despite threats clearly show the change of the times. They realize the risks involved in standing up to grave opposition but there is no other direction to go but forward. There is no room for fear if we are to achieve equality and justice for girls marginalized because of their gender.      
3:02 AM

Fighting Poverty and Traficking...Getting Involved

In Nepal, trafficking has become a highly profitable business.  Not surprising. With almost one-third of its population living below the poverty line, Nepal and other countries with impoverished population are vulnerable to trafficking. Victims of trafficking often come from the very poorest regions of Nepal. Without education or opportunity, they often live with their families on the poorest parts of society where food may be scarce or clean water unavailable. Criminal elements thrive and feed on those driven to desperation to survive and hoping to have a better life elsewhere.

Trafficking comes in various forms - forced labor, domestic and factory work, prostitution, slavery. Millions of women and girls have been trafficked within and across borders over the years. According to a 2001 report by Asia Foundation and Horizons Project Population Council report, profits generated in trafficking is so much more than that generated from the arms and narcotics trade.

What Statistics Show

·  Girl trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry in Nepal generating an estimated five to seven billion U.S. dollars a year.

·  7,000 to 10,000 Nepalese girls between the ages of 9 and 16 are trafficked against their will every year.

·  5,000 Nepalese women are trafficked into India yearly. As many as 70% of girls in India's brothels are HIV positive.

·  Trafficking thrives on poverty: 55% of people in Nepal live on less than US$1.25 per day.

·  2005 data from case records documented by six rehabilitation centers in Nepal of sex-trafficked women show that most (72.7%) rural girls who are trafficked are Hindu by religion. 59.9% are unmarried. 46.5% are 16-18 yrs of age and 77.2% have no or little education.

·   Most sex-trafficking (59.4%) in Nepal is carried out through “Dalals” or brokers who falsely guarantee good work to girl-children who are willing to travel to other country locations. At times, the some Dalals even pretend to marry girls who come from families with little resources, as they sell them in the brothels.

In a study made, child marriage is accepted Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and is considered the best method to procure girls for prostitution (Indrani Sinha, SANLAAP India, "Paper on Globalization & Human Rights").

The tragedy though, is that most, if not all trafficking victims fall into forced prostitution because of false promises made by someone “familiar” to them. Some are sold by their very own parents or relatives to pay off debts or out of dire poverty, or, to simply get rid of unwanted wives or daughters. They get sold for US$200 to $ commodities. 

The Challenges Ahead

Support and involvement of the community is needed in reintegrating trafficked victims in society. Trafficked survivors are often voiceless and harassed if they choose to speak up. Challenges have to be addressed and the lack or absence of critical enablers to reintegrate them back into the streamline of society slows down progress.

1)  Trafficked victims need medical assistance to help them physically and emotionally get back within the streamline of society but one of the biggest problems is shortage of health care workers.  According to the World Health Organization report released this September 2012, Nepal is among the countries with fewer than 23 health workers (doctors, nurses and midwives) per 10,000 population. This is considered the required minimum health workforce needed to achieve 80% coverage of essential health interventions.

2) Trafficking is oftentimes organized and managed by crime syndicates capable of corrupting law enforcers to turn a blind eye or even go to the extent of threatening or endangering lives of anyone who intervenes in their “trade.”  They can have the political clout to get the protection they need to keep their brothels running.  

3) Those trafficked into prostitution seldom escape their fate once they enter the brothel. The few that do sometimes refuse assistance because they fear society would judge them harshly or because they are never able to overcome the trauma of what they went through. 

4) The “deukis” system where childless families buy girls and are offered to temples as their own then are forced into prostitution continues to be practiced by many families.  In a 1997 UN Special Report on Violence Against Women, it was reported that in 1992, 17,000 girls were given as deukis. 

5) There continues to be a need to change the mindset of people on the low status treatment of the girl-child compared to the boy-child in the family.

6) Most critical is the need for more government support not only in preventing intra and cross-border trafficking in countries like India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh but also in coming out with programs to eradicate poverty and bolster education.  

What’s Being Done?

Poverty and lack of education have always been associated with trafficking. Unless these are eradicated, trafficking will remain a problem of the times. Women and children will continue to go missing and undocumented, many never to be heard from again. NGO chairperson Durga Ghimire  of National Network Groups Against Trafficking also confirms the finding  that “low rates of female literacy, coupled with the traditionally low status of the girl-child in Nepal have to be addressed to tackle the problem.”    

Some say that the exploitation of women and children may never end. But the close collaboration among government, NGOs and the community can significantly mitigate its proliferation.  

The growing number of non-government organizations (NGO) has augmented the lack of support from government in addressing the problems on trafficking and poverty.  Maiti Nepal, a 20 yr old rescue organization, based in Kathmandu, is one of the NGOs that manage ongoing rescue of Nepali girls from the brothels of Mumbai.  Friends of Nepal, its sister organization confirms stories of organized criminals controlling trafficking. The NGO explains the risks of rescuing trafficked Nepali citizens in India where members of Maiti Nepal have to travel with bodyguards when conducting rescue missions.

There are several shelters run by various Katmandu-based NGOs working against trafficking and towards rehabilitation of girls who manage to escape or are rescued from Indian brothels. However, the problem of reuniting them with their families and reintegrating them back in the streamline of society is complex.  Relatives often don't want them back and Nepal's government is worried about the spread of HIV.

The group Plan Youth (Fighting Against Child Trafficking, Plan Youth) is lobbying and advocating for anti-trafficking and sexual abuse policies to ensure that the government has effective laws. It is working directly with government, police and community groups to create a National Plan of Action against human trafficking.  This includes:

1) helping girls to file legal cases against traffickers and perpetrators. 

2) communities in Nepal forming protection groups – special clubs of girls and community members who work together to guard against the risks of child trafficking. These groups keep an eye out for traffickers and exploitative situations, as well as advocating for girls' rights at a local level. They help to raise awareness and protect girls from violence and trafficking.

3) rehabilitation and reintegration of victims into their families and communities  

4) Promoting  gender equality and empowering women Nyaya Health is also working to expand its outreach to “thousands in the rural area.”  It has re-opened the Byalpata Hospital in the Achham District in Western Nepal. Training of over 100  rural community health workers is also in its action plans. Over 101,000 people in the region  have so far accessed free health care since 2008 as part of  Nyaya Health’s endeavour.

Initiative Nepal also focuses on youth awareness and action plans to encourage youth involvement in the community. Through Initiative Nepal’s social forums, awareness initiatives undertaken by various groups to address social issues like trafficking are brought to fore.

The youth can get involved and align themselves with NGOs like Plan Youth, Nayata Health or other growing number of NGOs and take responsibility in giving a voice to the voiceless, helping protect and empowering those who need to be educated and saved from the dark holes of poverty and trafficking.

Getting involved can make a difference to the lives of many voiceless victims.
  • ·   Start small...volunteer.
  • ·   Make others aware of the community’s social problems, write/blog about it  
  • ·   Help NGOs in their awareness or reintegration programs
  • ·   Call on government to take stronger action by asking them  to:
      • o   provide access to education
      • o   address corruption in government
      • o   strengthen border security to prevent trafficking
      • o   organize and take the lead in awareness programs to prevent trafficking

  • Alone we may not be able to do much but TOGETHER, people will stop and listen.