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  • Report
  • 5 June 2024

Data analysis to leave no one behind in Simta, Nepal

This report analyses the available data in Simta municipality in Nepal and finds that children, women and girls are at risk of being left behind. It makes recommendations that can be used for policymaking to address inequalities and improve the data landscape.

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In recent years, Nepal has made significant progress in reducing the number of people living in multidimensional poverty, from 30% of the population in 2014 to 17% in 2019. This represents 3.1 million citizens lifted out of multidimensional poverty. However, while progress at the national level has been substantial, there is a risk that certain groups could be left behind.

In order to gain an understanding of who these groups might be and the data available to inform local decision-making, Development Initiatives (DI) has carried out a data landscaping and analysis assessment in two municipalities in Nepal – Simta and Tulsipur. These assessments form part of DI’s body of work in support of the Agenda 2030 commitment to leave no one behind (LNOB).

We first conducted a data landscaping assessment of the availability of data and evidence in the two municipalities. This report then analyses the data collated in the initial data landscaping assessment in Simta, presents the findings and makes recommendations. It largely uses data from the Nepal National Population and Housing Census 2021 (‘the 2021 Census’) and local data systems and processes from 2018 to 2022. You can read more about the data sources used in this report in Part 2.

The analysis in this report helps identify those at risk of being left behind – namely women and children. It provides information and makes recommendations that can be used to inform local decision-making to tackle poverty, inequalities, and improve data quality and systems for further evidence. Furthermore, it shows how local data can help identify groups being left behind and that improved data is needed to fully understand inequalities experienced by people of ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

The Executive summary presents the key findings. Part 1 introduces the report, and Part 2 explains the data sources used and data limitations. Part 3 outlines the municipality’s demographic and living standards. Part 4 goes on to identify groups shown to be at risk of being left behind, with a focus on women and children. Part 5 uses available data provided by the municipality to review three social protection programmes and their ability to target and aid groups most at need. Finally, Part 6 summarises the report findings and provides recommendations for data improvement and use in local decision-making.

Download the full report. You can also read our report about Tulsipur municipality.


► Read our initial report on data landscaping in Simta, Nepal

► Discover more about DI's data landscaping approach

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Executive summary

In a matter of five years, the proportion of people living in multidimensional poverty in Nepal has significantly decreased from 30% in 2014 to 17% in 2019.[1] This substantial progress meant that 3.1 million citizens were lifted out of multidimensional poverty, and both the social and economic living standards of millions of people were improved nationwide. However, while progress at the national level has been substantial, there is a risk that certain populations and communities could be left behind if this progress is not shared. In support of the Agenda 2030 commitment to leave no one behind (LNOB), DI conducted a study to assess the availability of data and evidence in two municipalities in Nepal – Simta and Tulsipur. This report presents the findings in relation to Simta municipality and aims to support government partners in understanding who is at risk of being left behind, in what ways, and why.

This report analyses the data collated in the initial data landscaping assessment in Simta municipality, largely relying on data from the Nepal National Population and Housing Census 2021 (‘the 2021 Census’) and local data systems and processes from 2018 to 2022. It seeks to identify those at risk of being left behind and provide information using existing municipal data which can be used to inform local decision-making to tackle poverty and inequalities. This report identifies that women and children are being left behind, while additional data collection and research are required to fully understand inequalities experienced by people of ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Key findings

1. Some notable comparisons can be made between Simta and Nepalese averages, both positive and negative

Simta is a rural municipality of Karnali province with a population of 24,083. In 2022/23, the National Living Standard Survey IV recorded Karnali as having the second highest poverty rate of any province in Nepal − 27%. Poverty is especially high in rural Karnali at a rate of 31%. This study found that, while many indicators of wellbeing may be below the Nepalese average, others show high levels of potential in education and employment.

  • Simta has a very young population, even more so than Nepal’s. Nepal has a very young average age of 25. Simta’s population has an average age of around 23, and more than a third of its citizens are under the age of 18.
  • Citizens have high economic participation and low levels of unemployment, for both men and women. 79% of working-age citizens are economically active in Simta, in comparison to 66% nationally. Additionally, the unemployment rate in Simta is 4.0%, compared to 7.0% nationally. Notably, women have a significantly lower unemployment rate of 3.4% in Simta compared to 8.0% nationally.
  • Literacy and education attendance in Simta is on par with the Nepalese average and particularly high for a rural municipality. In Simta, 77% of citizens above the age of 5 are able to read and write in comparison to 76% nationally and 72% of national rural citizens. Similarly, 74% of 5–25-year-olds in the municipality are in education, while the national average is 71% and rural national average is 69%.
  • Quality of household structure appears to be below Nepalese norms. Building materials for walls, floors and so on are of lower quality in Simta. For example, 87% of households in Simta have mud/dirt floors and 84% have mud-bonded brick/stone walls, in comparison to 46% and 33% respectively nationally.
  • Access to household appliances, electricity and personal means of transport is significantly lower in Simta. Only one in four (25%) of households in Simta have access to electricity in comparison to 92% nationally. Similarly, very few households own a television (9%) and personal means of transport (<1%), in comparison to 49% of households nationally that own a television and 35% that own a bicycle.

2. Women face compounded burdens that place them at risk of poverty and socioeconomic inequalities

This report found clear evidence that women are one group being left behind in Simta. With lower educational levels, literacy and economic participation than men, and high rates of early marriage and single parenting, women face multiple burdens that place them at greater risk of poverty. There are some programmes and social security systems in place to support certain groups of women, but their impact is not always clear or fully measured.

  • Women were found to have less education and lower attendance than men. 58% of women between the ages of 20 to 39 completed schooling to Grade 10 or higher in comparison to 67% of men in the same age group. The difference is greater among older age groups as 22% of women over the age of 40 report never having attended education in comparison to 4% of men in the same age group. Young girls and women between the ages of 5 and 25 have lower school attendance, with 68% currently in school in comparison to 80% of young boys and men.
  • Literacy levels are significantly lower for older women than men. While younger generations under the age of 20 have very high literacy of close to 100% for both boys/men and girls/women, literacy rates among the older generations are very different by gender. For example, women between the ages of 65 and 69 have a literacy rate of 7% in comparison to 45% of men in the same age group. These findings do not differ very much from the national averages.
  • The Prime Minister’s Employment Program (PMEP) helps unemployed women find work opportunities. While accessible to all unemployed, the PMEP specifically targets unemployed women to help decrease the number of women in unemployment. In Simta, almost two thirds of applicants to the programme were women. However, data on the number of applicants that successfully receive employment opportunities was not available.
  • Single mothers look after a large proportion of the children in the municipality. One in three children in the municipality were found to live with a single mother.
  • Social security allowances aid widowed and senior single women by providing cash transfer allowances. In 2021/22, 504 allowances of Nepales Rupees (NPR) 31,920 were granted to widowed women and senior single women.
  • Early marriage is a prevalent trend likely hindering educational opportunities for girls and young women. While there is limited data to measure the impact of marriage and childcare on education, marriage statistics show that 9% of married women in Simta married before the age of 15, and 50% before the age of 18. Early marriage is likely to contribute to the large number of girls and young women not in education.

3. Children and adolescents receive very little social assistance despite making up almost half of Nepal’s population living in poverty

Children and adolescents under the age of 18 make up over a third of Simta’s population. However, nationally, children and adolescents under 18 make up the largest share of people living in multidimensional poverty. According to national data, 44% of all Nepalese people living in poverty, the equivalent to 2.2 million citizens, are children. In other words, one in four children in Nepal live in multidimensional poverty.[2]

  • Only 6 to 11% of all funds provided through social assistance allowances reached children and adolescents under the age of 18. Without any cash assistance to most children in the municipality, especially those between the ages of 5 and 18 that receive near to no allowances, families face the near full cost of educational materials and nutrition with limited in-kind programmes available.
  • A significant number of adolescents and young adults do not pursue higher levels of education. Almost 9 in 10 young adults (87%) between the ages of 18 and 25 are not in education and have left schooling.
  • One in three children under the age of 18 live with a single parent. This places them at higher risk of being in poverty, as well as being involved in child labour to help provide additional income for their household.
  • A considerable number of children are involved in child labour. 7% of children aged 10 to 14 report working for a period longer than six months in the past year, and 40% worked for up to 6 months.

4. A lack of quality, timely data makes it difficult to understand socioeconomic inequalities and aid those most vulnerable

National censuses are conducted once every ten years in Nepal. This report largely relied on data from the 2021 national census. With limited data gathered from other sources, timely analysis for local decision-making would be difficult to conduct.

  • The lack of disaggregated datasets limits comparison across variables. With almost all data published being aggregated, census data included, comparison of additional insight in child, gender, and other potential groups at risk could not be analysed.
  • Limited datasets available. Low-quality data, or in some cases no data, on variables such as income, health, gender violence, nutrition, and ethnicity were found in the collated data.
  • Missing metadata and additional information. While not totally limiting, the inclusion of metadata could have simplified or improved the analysis process.
  • Incomplete tracking of local social security programs. Only three social security programs (PMEP, the Social Security Allowance programme (SSA), and girls and Dalit student scholarships) were found to have available data despite there being other programmes available.