- Nepal is ranked 144 of 182 on the Human Development Index.
- Eight million people remain food-insecure because of rising food and fuel prices.
- Child malnutrition rates are among the worst in the world. Winter drought, poor harvest, in particular in the hilly and mountainous regions, could increase malnutrition and cause additional, longer-term vulnerability.
- Nepal also faces risks of annual devastating floods and landslides and is at high risk of a high magnitude earthquake. The country is further influenced by regional and global crisis drivers, including climate change.
- Inflation has reached an all time high of 17%.
- Inequality and governance issues remain endemic.
Following the end of the 2006 conflict, protection and assistance needs have been compounded by chronic vulnerability and a protracted political transition. Structural poverty is a root cause of the conflict and also features prominently in crises – which tend to be sudden, ambiguous and dynamic. Despite several landmark achievements in the peace process, including successful elections, considerable humanitarian challenges and appeal requirements remain. The government has limited coordination capacity, hampering collective response to emerging crises. Moving forward, government reach must be strengthened at the local level.
OCHA is mandated to support the humanitarian community in confronting these challenges through its extensive partnerships and preparedness initiatives. OCHA highlights current and emerging humanitarian needs in Nepal, through support to capacity-development initiatives of government and nationally owned coordination mechanisms. OCHA provides collaborative, cohesive and complimentary approaches for effective delivery of humanitarian action at the national, regional and district level. And OCHA seeks to streamline and integrate humanitarian coordination structures with development structures. Given the vulnerability to annual natural disasters, OCHA ensures networks are maintained and expanded, especially through the continuation of disaster preparedness and contingency planning workshops at national, regional and district levels.
In addition, OCHA provides key information services, highlighting trend data with regards to the reach of state, operational access and security incidents. OCHA offers immediate access to key baseline data, facilitates initial rapid assessments, and highlights vulnerability and needs in the field. In 2010, OCHA will foster a more enabling environment for humanitarian action in the sub-region by placing increased emphasis on partnerships and preparedness as part of its transition strategy. Notably, to ensure more defined roles and responsibilities, OCHA will use the Risk Reduction Consortium initiative as a pilot framework for OCHA CO engagement in response preparedness.
To ensure a more effective humanitarian coordination system, OCHA will work toward a more predictable and scalable suite of OCHA services and tools to support leaders and partners in response preparedness, humanitarian response, and transition. It will also support a more systematic coordination of the common humanitarian programme cycle. Specific initiatives will encompass disaster preparedness activities (including contingency planning); advocacy (Basic Operating Guidelines and issues of humanitarian concern); coordination (strengthening and codifying the cluster approach in a transitional context); and IM (reporting, mapping). The protracted political transition, and the need to maintain both early warning and preparedness capacity, is reflected in the OCHA Nepal transition strategy. While UNMIN, the United Nations Special Political Mission in Nepal, is currently scheduled to draw down in 2010, the Security Council will only take a decision in January.
For the duration of the mission OCHA will continue to support a coherent United Nations approach that respects humanitarian principles. In 2010, OCHA will incorporate its roles and functions into a joint HC/RC office. By mid-2010, the OCHA Nepal CO will be downsized to a HSU. Subsequently, OCHA key functions will focus on partnerships and enhancing the capacity of national structures. OCHA will contribute to field coordination units that leverage OCHA coordination tools and services for residual humanitarian needs, as well as the wider development community. More emphasis will be placed on working with the apex disaster management body in the government and building upon local capacities for disaster response.