Emergency operations

The World Food Programme’s (WFP) Nepal earthquake response helps people affected by both earthquakes that struck the country in April and May 2015, by delivering emergency food assistance and organising logistics. Some of the response contributes to the country’s long-term recovery. More information can be found on the Nepal earthquake emergency page.

More on Nepal

What are the current issues in Nepal

With a population of 26.6 million, Nepal is struggling to give itself a new constitution and a stable government after a decade of civil conflict. Nepal has a GDP per capita of US$1,049, and ranks 157 of 187 countries on the 2011 UNDP Human Development Index. Twenty-five percent lives below the national poverty line (less than US$0.50 per day). Agricultural production is not at pace with the population growth, and frequent natural disasters destroy the livelihoods of many Nepalese. According to FAO, 4.5 million Nepalese are undernourished.

The food security situation is most serious in the hills and mountains of the mid- and far-western regions. Rural communities in these areas face three problems: 1) poor agricultural production leading to food insecurity; 2) lack of basic infrastructure—extremely poor road conditions and few bridges, health posts and schools in many remote villages; and 3) changing climatic patterns that are having a discernible impact on the livelihoods of rural communities.

Malnutrition rates in Nepal are among the highest in the world. Forty-one percent of children under five are stunted, 29 percent are underweight and 11 percent are wasted. The prevalence of stunting in the hills and mountains of the mid- and far-western regions is extreme, with rates above 60 percent. Micronutrient deficiencies are also widespread; in particular, 46 percent of children 6-59 months, 35 percent of women of reproductive age and 48 percent of pregnant women are anaemic. According to the World Bank, GDP lost due to malnutrition can be as high as 2-3 percent. Malnutrition slows economic growth and perpetuates poverty through direct losses in productivity from poor physical status, and indirect losses from poor cognitive function, and increased health costs.

There have been remarkable improvements in Nepal’s education sector. The enrolment rate of children in grades 1 through 8 stands at 87 percent. Overall, the gender gap in public schools is closing: for every 100 boys attending public schools there are 99 girls. Nepal’s Ministry of Education has translated the global ‘Education for All’ initiative into a School Sector Reform Plan which constitutes the basis for all education-related programmes in the country. Nonetheless, challenges persist. Enrolment rates are lower in the hills and mountains. School enrolment rates of Dalits and other disadvantaged ethnic groups in these areas are well below the national average: The majority of schools in Nepal do not meet the minimum conditions set by the Government. Improved teacher training and recruitment of female teachers and teachers from minority groups is needed to guarantee quality education. This is an investment in human capital which can result in an inter-generational process to stop the hunger cycle in Nepal.

WFP’s work in Nepal primarily targets the most food insecure and hard to reach districts of the Mid- and Far-Western Hills and Mountains. These areas of Nepal experience both the greatest need for assistance and the greatest gap in government and NGO partner support on the ground.

In 2013, WFP starts a new five-year country programme through actively supporting the Government of Nepal in tackling food insecurity, focusing on social safety nets in the areas of nutrition, education and rural livelihoods support. If sufficient funding is resourced, about 410 000 people can benefit from the programme. The interventions concentrate on the most vulnerable populations in the mid- and far-west hills and mountain regions where the most food-insecure people live. Social protection is the overarching theme of this new programme, which consists of four distinct components: 1) Mother-and-Child Health and Nutrition, 2) School Meals, 3) Productive Assets and Livelihoods Support, and 4) Capacity Development of WFP's partners.In addition to this, WFP is providing humanitarian assistance to 40 000 refugees from Bhutan living in refugee camps in Nepal - all of whom are entirely dependent on external assistance to meet their daily needs.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Nepal

The World Food Programme (WFP) provides food assistance in Nepal through three sub-offices with three major projects: The Country Programme (DEV 200319), Social Protection Livelihoods and assets creation programme (PRRO 200152), and the refugee operation (PRRO 200136). In January 2013, WFP started a new five-year Country Programme through actively supporting the Government of Nepal in tackling food insecurity, focusing on social safety nets in the areas of nutrition, education and rural livelihoods support. The interventions concentrate on the most vulnerable populations in the mid- and far-western hills and mountain regions where the most food-insecure people live. Social protection is the overarching theme of this new programme, which consists of four distinct components:

  • Mother-and-Child Health and Nutrition:

Investing in the health of pregnant and lactating women, young mothers and children under five preempts a reduction in human capital and productivity. Under its new Country Programme, WFP will build on 10 years of experience with nutrition interventions in Nepal. WFP’s nutrition activities have three objectives: 1) prevention of undernutrition in children between 6-23 months, pregnant and lactating women through WFP’s Mother-and-Child-Health and Nutrition Programme; 2) treatment of moderate acute malnutrition in children between 6-59 months through a Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition programme; and 3) capacity building activities including nutrition policy support and efforts to increase local production of special fortified food supplements. In total, about 110,000 mothers and children could benefit yearly from these activities, provided WFP receives sufficient funding. Total cost for the planned nutrition interventions amounts to about US$9 million annually.

  • School Meals:

WFP is currently successfully implementing a School Meals programme together with the Ministry of Education.The objective ofthis programme is twofold. In the short term, the programme aims to keep children in school as well as to enhance their attention through provision of a nutritious school meal. In the long term, the programme aims to break the cycle of hunger by promoting education, in particular of the women. To improve access to quality education, WFP has also partnered with OpenLearning Exchange Nepal to provide digital learning materials to rural primary schools. WFPstarted activities together with the Ministry of Education (MoE) in 1996. At the central level, WFP and MoE signed an operational agreement formalizing thepartnership, which will be extended under this new Country Programme.

WFP will provide children in grade 1-8 in schools of selected districts with a bowl of haluwa, a nutritious porridge-like meal. Thefood, consisting of a fortified wheat-soya blend with sugar and vegetable oil, will be cooked at the schools. Children will receivethis support each school day. In 2013, up to 330,000 children could benefit from this. WFP needs US$12 million annually to cover the food costs for this programme.

  • Productive Assets and Livelihoods Support:

To address the severe food security situation in the mid- and far-western hills and mountains, WFP implements schemes toprovide employment opportunities to create protective and productive assets and restore and rebuild livelihoods in the exchange of food, cash or a combination of food and cash. The projects aim at: 1) enhancing agricultural production; 2) creating rural infrastructure for poor and disenfranchised rural communities; and 3) helping communities to build resilience against weather shocks in adaptation to changing climatic conditions. Up to 410,000 vulnerable persons will directly benefit from WFP's food and cash transfers, if sufficient funding is received.

The participants will directly benefit from food and cash transfers, and many more will benefit from the assets created. WFP’s livelihoods and assets creation projects aimed at: 1) enhancing agricultural production; 2) creating rural infrastructure for poor and disenfranchised rural communities; and 3) helping communities to build resilience against weather shocks in adaptation to changing climatic conditions. Up to 410,000 vulnerable people will directly benefit from WFP’s livelihoods support projects at a cost of US$25 million annually. In the design and implementation of individual projects, WFP builds on its vast experience as the organization has carried out similar projects since 1996. WFP’s proven track record of successfully handing over projects to the communities and to the Government of Nepal will serve as a blue print for future activities. Already during the project design phase WFP considers how the project can later be transferred to communities and to the Government, thus making project sustainability the focus of its efforts.These activities are currently done under the PRRO 200152 which is extended until June 2013.

4) Capacity Development of WFP's partners:

WFP operates in 20 of Nepal's 75 districts. More than 30 vulnerability analysis and mapping (VAM) staff cover 75 districts and collect real-time data on household food security. With this data, the VAM unit, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture Development, produces critical reports on food prices, household food security and early warning of emergency situations for key stakeholders and donors in Nepal. Please visithttp://groups.google.com/group/NeKSAP?hl=en&pli=1for more food security monitoring data and reports.In addition, WFP will do capacity building activities of the Government including nutrition policy support and efforts to increase local production of special fortified food supplements. WFP will support the Ministry of Education in developing its national school feeding strategy, to ensure linkages and harmonized objectives, targeting criteria and nutrition provisions between school meal programmes and other health and nutrition interventions under the multi-sectoral nutrition plan.

WFP has been providing humanitarian assistance to the refugees from Bhutan living in refugee camps in Nepal for the past 20 years - all of whom are entirely dependent on external assistance to meet their daily needs. By January 2013, third country resettlement has allowed for the departure of more than 75,800 refugees. The refugee population as of January 2013 was about 40,000 in two camps.

Featured Nepal publications

  • Nepal: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 353 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Nepal? Visit the Nepal publications archive.