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Earthquake pushes one million Nepalis down poverty line

The devastating earthquake of 7.8-magnitude on April 25 and susbquent aftershocks has pushed an estimated one million people below poverty line.
Presenting the findings of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report here today National Planning Commission vice chair Dr Govinda Raj Pokharel said that the report has estimated poverty-level to go up by more than 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent.
“Some 700,000 to 982,000 people will slip back into the trap of poverty because of loss of assets and income-generating opportunities,” he said, “of the people who fall back into poverty, roughly 50 per cent to 70 per cent are likely to hail from rural central hills and mountains where overall vulnerability was very high prior to the earthquake.”
“The earthquake is likely to have obliterated all these livelihood channels, particularly for those with limited access to other forms of assets and credit markets,” according to the PDNA report.
The poverty prevalence in Nepal stands at 23.8 per cent, according to Human Development Report-2014, but according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, rate of poverty stands at 25.16 per cent. It means a quarter – 6.5 million – of total population of 26 million is under poverty line at present. But the number could go up to 7 million due to earthquake.
The devastating earthquake had rocked as many as 38 of the total 75 districts, but 14 are badly hit and seven worst-hit, where some 8,800 people were killed, thousands injured and an estimated one million residents displaced.
“The earthquake is likely to have obliterated all these livelihood channels, particularly for those with limited access to other forms of assets and credit markets,” the report said, adding that the need to rebuild their own houses is likely to keep many away from the labour market, leading to slowdown in non-farm activities.
The earthquake and aftershocks damaged assets and properties worth Rs.513 billion ($5.13 billion) and the country needs an estimated Rs 666 billion ($6.66 billion) or nearly one-third of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Rs 2,164 billion.
The PDNA will be presented before the donor community at an international donors conference on June 25 in Kathmandu to collect resources for the rebuilding and reconstruction efforts.
Over the last three decades, Nepal had not been only registering fast improvement on the Human Development Index (HDI) but also reducing the level of poverty.
“The earthquake has hit agriculture, education, water and sanitation, and health, the crucial elements of human development hard,” the report said, adding that the people will be pushed down poverty level due to loss of houses, income-generating opportunities, productive assets like seeds and livestock and durable assets like assorted household items ranging from basic kitchen utensils to jewellery. “It has also exposed the pitfall of the poverty reduction drive launched by the government.”