Life expectancy of Nepalis is likely to rise by more than six years in the next two decades, as the government has formulated its first-ever national policy aiming to create conditions conducive to improving the level of welfare of the population.
According to National Population Policy-2015 introduced by the Ministry of Health and Population, life expectancy will increase from 68.8 years in 2014 to 75 in 2034. The policy envisages an average life expectancy for male population at 74 years and that for females at 76 years.
The national census conducted in 2011 had found that average life expectancy for women was 67.9 years and that for men was 66.6 years. “Although men still die younger, the gap will widen slightly in the coming years.”
According to Kedar Bogati, Chief of the Population Management Division at the ministry, the policy has also formulated strategies to meet its target.
“The policy aims to decrease crude death rate (the number of deaths occurring during the year, per 1,000 population estimated at midyear) from seven in 2014 to five in 2034,” he added.
The population will not only be living longer but also living better, according to the policy, which has set a long-term objective of achieving a stable population by rehabilitating the shattered social and economic infrastructure in the country. Under the policy, the government aims to bring average household size from 4.6 in 2014 to 4.1 in the next 20 years.
“Literacy rate for population above 10 years of age is likely to be 95 per cent while 90 per cent of couples could have an easy access to modern contraceptives,” the policy document reads, adding that 60 per cent of the total population will flock to urban areas.
“The prime minister-led national population council shall prepare basic foundation for its effective implementation while MoHP shall play a key role to oversee the respective activities performed under the policy,” the document reads.
Dr Ram Saran Pathak, Head of the Central Department of Population Studies in Tribhuvan University, said the policy would certainly be a milestone in achieving the sustainable development goals and in establishing the empirical linkages between population and development.
“Proportional distribution of demographic dividend among the youth population and generation of employment opportunities are the key components of the policy,” he told THT.
This policy is critical to development and will have far-reaching benefits for Nepal given the impact that the changing population dynamics has on the socio-economic development of the country, UNFPA country representative Giulia Vallese said.
“It will be a key milestone in responding to population issues faced by Nepal given that the country is confronted with a demographic dividend, whereby its active population is higher than the dependent one — children and the elderly,” she told this daily. “UNFPA reaffirms its commitment to providing support to the government for its effective implementation.”
Level of welfare of population to improve
INDICATORS 2014 2034
Total Fertility Rate (per woman) 2.3 2.1
Annual Population Growth (per cent) 1.35 1.1
Crude Death Rate (per 1,000 people) 7 5
Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000 live births) 33 25