UNFPA-Supported Surveys Find Declining Fertility and Mortality in Nepal
- 28 May 2002
Nepal's fertility and mortality rates are on a downward trend, according to recently released preliminary findings from the country's 2001 National Census and its National Demographic Health Survey. Both the census and demographic health survey were held with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
"Fertility and mortality are steadily declining, people's mobility from one place to another is increasing and the population seems to be growing in absolute numbers," stated J. Bill Musoke, the UNFPA's Nepal Representative. In an interview following the release of the preliminary findings, he said that, for the first time, the 2001 census collected data on gender-specific issues and caste/ethnic groups.
During the next 25 years, the adolescent and youth population of Nepal was projected to increase by 25 per cent, said Mr. Musoke, adding that, with the child population, that group represented the momentum for growth in Nepal's population.
The Demographic Health Survey provides valuable information that would be used in finalizing Nepal's 10th Health Plan, he continued. The Survey was the sixth in a series of national-level population and health surveys and the second comprehensive one conducted as part of a global demographic and health survey programme. The first survey had been conducted in 1996.
Nepal had made significant improvement in socio-economic indicators, including health, said Mr. Musoke, noting that the total fertility rate had come down to 4.1 per woman, contraceptive prevalence rate had gone up to 39 percent and utilization of health services is increasing. In addition, the government is attempting to formulate comprehensive policies and programmes that address gender and sustainable development issues. "UNFPA would like to focus its assistance on activities that sharpen these achievements so that Nepal is in a position to fulfill the aspirations of its people for improved quality of life as well as its international commitments."
The Representative said that the UNFPA had assisted the Government to fulfill commitments it made in various international conferences and summits, including the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) and the 2000 Millennium Summit. It had provided both technical and financial support to Government efforts to accelerate socio-economic development to improve the quality of life of the people, particularly by assisting it to plan and implement gender-sensitive population and reproductive health policies and programmes.
The Fund, in collaboration with stakeholders and the Government, had formulated a fifth country programme for Nepal, he continued. That programme, which is yet to be signed by the Government and the Fund, envisages a two-pronged approach under which the UNFPA would continue to support some nationwide activities but, at the same time, also focus on selected districts.
"This will allow us to strengthen national as well as district capacity to formulate, implement, coordinate and monitor population, reproductive health and gender programmes," he said.
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