KATHMANDU, March 18: A report entitled Demographic Changes in Nepal: Trends and Policy Implications made public on Friday stressed on the need to increase investment in health and education for early childhood development in Nepal.
The demographic window of opportunity for Nepal began around 1992 and will start to close in another 30 years in 2047, according to the report.
The report further states that the total fertility rate decreased from 5.62 in 1980-1985 to 2.32 in 2010-2015. Similarly, the crude death rate declined from 16.9 in 1980-1985 to 6.5 in 2010-2015 while life expectancy increased from 48.34 years in 1980-1985 to 69.01 years in 2010-2015.
The National Planning Commission (NPC) and UNICEF called for greater investment for children in Nepal to capitalize on the country's rapid and unique demographic transition and reap the maximum benefit for the future.
“We need to invest reasonable amount of budget on the health and education of children in Nepal,” said Dr Min Bahadur Shrestha, vice chairman at the NPC, which makes plans and fixes ceiling of annual fiscal budget for the country.
The government has allocated nearly 12 percent and 4 percent of the total annual budget on education and health sectors respectively in the current fiscal year. The government had allocated 17.1 percent for education sector in the fiscal year 2011-2012 while the allocation for health sector in 2009 was around 5.8 percent of the total budget.
In such a scenario in which health and education sectors are getting less priority, the organizers - NPC and UNICEF - at the report launching program insisted on increasing budget for the education and health sectors.
“The report provides analytic evidences and convincing cases that call for urgency in investing in children now to ensure that the children of today as well as future generation are far more productive when they enter the workforce,” said Prof Dr Geeta Bhakta Joshi, a member of the NPC.
“The Government of Nepal is committed to making these investments for children in such areas like early childhood development, health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, child protection, adolescents' development and social protection,” he added.