The National Planning Commission’s 2014 survey of the Multidimensional Poverty Index showed that the incidence of poverty had fallen from nearly 60% in 2006 to 28.6% in 2014 – largely because household incomes rose due to remittances. With the Covid crisis, Nepal’s poverty rate may have climbed back to the level 15 years ago at the end of the conflict.
The Unicef survey shows that the incidence of household poverty during the Covid-19 crisis is spread unevenly through Nepal. For instance, the majority of those who remain in the ‘no earning’ category this year are from rural parts of Sudurpaschim and Lumbini Provinces. A quarter of them tend to be female-led households and 10% were Dalit families.
The survey shows a clear correlation between the pandemic-induced loss of income across Nepal. For example, the survey in May had shown that there were zero households with no earnings, or those making less than Rs10,000 a month. Strikingly, this figure went up to 49% in July, and even climbed to a high of 64% in August (See graphs).
By October it had fallen to 42%+19% with income below Rs10,000 a month, and it is likely even lower for December. However, 45% of households were still reporting loss of income, and even those with jobs were earning less.
The data shows that except for Karnali, all six other provinces reported a decrease in job loss from May to October, 2020. Province 2 showed a consistently high level of those who had lost livelihoods, and there was little improvement from August to October. Bagmati and Lumbini Provinces had the lowest percentage of respondents reporting job losses since August.