Susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to price fluctuations in agriculture-dependent regions, civil unrest, challenging geographic landscape and poor infrastructure have contributed to food insecurity in Nepal. According to the UN World Food Program (WFP), onequarter of the nation’s population lives on less than $0.50 per day.
While in recent years food security has generally improved across Nepal, 20 percent of households are mildly food insecure, 22 percent are moderately food insecure and 10 percent are severely food insecure, according to the 2016 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). Overall, rural households are more likely to be food insecure than people living in urban households, according to the survey.
Despite declining rates of undernourishment and child mortality in recent years, malnutrition remains a serious issue in Nepal.
According to WFP, 41 percent of children younger than 5 years of age in Nepal are experiencing chronic malnutrition and 11 percent suffer from acute malnutrition. Among pregnant and lactating women, the prevalence of anemia was approximately 46 percent and a staggering 74 percent among children ages 12-17 months, according to the 2016 DHS.
USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) partners with Mercy Corps to implement a five-year, resilience-focused development program—Promoting Agriculture, Health and Alternative Livelihoods (PAHAL)—which targets communities with high poverty and malnutrition rates in 14 districts located in the hills of Far and Mid-West regions. PAHAL aims to improve the nutritional status of people by strengthening livelihoods and increasing the capacity of vulnerable households to prevent, mitigate, adapt to and recover from shocks and stresses.
FFP also partners with Save the Children International (SCF) to implement the Sustainable Action for Resilience and Food Security (Sabal) program in 8 districts of Nepal’s Central and Eastern regions. Sabal is a five-year, multi-sectoral community resilience program that aims to improve access to agricultural services, strengthen and diversify livelihoods and improve health and nutrition.