Monday, March 26, 2012

Nepal Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) - 2011

Nepal has improved in almost all health indicators except neo-natal mortality. The neonatal mortality rate in the past five year was 33 deaths per 1,000 live births according to Nepal Demographic Health Survey (NDHS)-2011 disseminated 26th March 2012.
The NDHS had collected demographic and health information from a nationally representative sample of 10,826 households, which included interviews with 12,674 women between 15 to 49 years of age in all selected households and with 4,121 men aged 15 to 49 in every second household.
The survey showed that fertility in Nepal has declined over the past fifteen years. Currently, women in Nepal have an average of 2.6 children, a decrease from 3.1 in 2006. Women in urban areas have 1.6 children on average, compared with 2.8 children per woman in rural areas. Fertility is higher in the mid-western (3.2) and far western (2.8) regions than in the eastern, central or western (each 2.5) regions.
The report said that family planning use has remained essentially the same since 2006 and use of female sterilization has dropped slightly from 18 per cent in 2006 to 15 per cent in 2011, while male sterilisation has increased from six per cent to eight per cent. The NDHS revealed that 27 per cent of married women have an unmet need for family planning—ten per cent for birth spacing and 17 per cent for limiting.
The infant mortality rate for the five-year period before the survey was 46 deaths per 1,000 live births just two deaths below the infant mortality reported in 2006. Under-five mortality rate was 54 deaths per 1,000 live births, down from 61 deaths per 1,000 in 2006.
Immunization coverage of children increased slightly during this period. Currently, 87 per cent of children aged 12 to 23 months are immunized against the six major childhood diseases whereas 83 per cent of children were fully immunized in 2006.
Nepali children are better nourished than in the past. In children under five years of age, 41 per cent are chronically malnourished and 11 per cent are wasted, While still high, these statistic represent a reduction from 2006 when 49 per cent were stunted and 13 per cent were wasted. Furthermore, data showed that 29 per cent of Nepali children under five were underweight in 2011, which is a decrease from 39 per cent in 2006.
Women’s health has improved over the last five years. In 2011, 58 per cent women received antenatal care from skilled providers, compared to 44 per cent women in 2006, and more than one in three (36 per cent ) births are delivered with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant currently compared to less than one in five births (19 per cent ) five years ago. Similarly, institutional delivery has also increased from 18 per cent in 2006 to 35 per cent in 2011.
The survey was conducted by New Era under the guidance of the Ministry of Health and Population with funding from USAID.
Other NDHS findings
• About 57 per cent of households reported at least one migration in the past ten years.
• Majority of Nepalis have some education, although only eight per cent of female respondents aged 15 to 49 and 15 per cent male respondents in the same age group have studied beyond secondary education.
• Nepali households consist of an average of 4.4 people.
• More than 99 per cent of all women know at least one modern method of family planning.
• Only 38 per cent of women know that abortion is legal in Nepal.
• About 86 per cent women and 97 per cent men have heard of HIV/AIDS but knowledge of HIV prevention measure is slightly lower.
• More than two in 10 women (22 per cent) have suffered physical violence at some point since 15.
• Almost one-third of married women have suffered spousal abuse at some point in time, whether physical, emotional or sexual.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Index of Economic Freedom 2012

Nepal is ranked 147th on 'Index of Economic Freedom 2012' among 184 countries. Nepal’s economic freedom score is 50.2 — an improvement by 0.1 — from last year, with an improvement in investment freedom offset by deterioration in business freedom,” according to the 18th annual Index of Economic Freedom released on 12th January 2012 by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.
However, the report revealed that economic freedom has declined worldwide in 2011 as many countries attempted — without success — to spend their way out of recession. “The global average economic freedom score for the 2012 Index stands at 59.5 — on a scale in which 100 represents the ideal — down two-tenths of a point from 2011.”
The Index that covers 10 freedoms — from property rights to entrepreneurship in 184 economies across the world — ranked Nepal 32nd out of 41 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, though its score remains far below world and regional averages.
Nepal’s statist approach to the economy continues to hold development progress far below the country’s potential, it said, adding that the foundations of economic freedom are extremely weak, and corruption, a lack of transparency, and a burdensome business approval process impede much-needed expansion of private investment and production. “Property rights are poorly protected by the inefficient judicial system, which is subject to substantial political influence.”
Overall, the economy lacks the entrepreneurial dynamism for broad-based economic growth and sustainable long-term development, the report said. Its scores for investment freedom and financial freedom are among the worst in the world. State interference continues to hurt regulatory efficiency, and there has been little effort to open the economy or engage in world markets. Lingering political instability undermines the government’s ability and willingness to implement necessary economic reforms, according to the annual report that ranked Hong Kong and Singapore the first and second freest economies for the 18th straight year. Australia and New Zealand ranked third and fourth, and Switzerland fifth followed by Canada, Chile, Mauritius, Ireland and the US under the top 10 free economies.
Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan and Liechtenstein are not ranked.
According to the Index, the scores of 75 countries improved while 90 countries lost economic freedom. Fourteen countries showed no change.
Of the 75 showing improvement, 73 are considered emerging or developing countries, with many situated in the Sub-Saharan Africa, the Asia-Pacific, and South and Central America/Caribbean regions.
Economic freedom is not only a crucial component of liberty but it also reveals level of poverty and economic growth as it empowers people to work, produce, consume, own, trade, and invest according to their personal choices. Economic freedom matters the most as only an economically free nation can compete in the global market.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Democracy Index 2011

The results of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index 2011 show that democracy has been under intense pressure in many parts of the world. In most regions the average democracy score for 2011 is lower than in 2010, including the developed countries of North America and Western Europe. There was a decline in the average score for Eastern Europe and small declines for both Asia and Latin America. These were offset by increase in average scores in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Sub-Saharan Africa. The index released on first week of January 2012.
According to 'The Democracy Index 2011 : Democracy under stress' Nepal is ranked 108th among 167 countries and territories. In the index other South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation (SAARC)'s members are India 39th, Sri Lanka 57th, Bangladesh 83rd, Bhutan 104th and Pakistan 105th. Maldives is not included in the index.
The United States ranks 19th, one notch below the United Kingdom. At the bottom of the Democracy Index 2011 rankings, at 167th, is North Korea.
A total of 53 countries, including all three Baltic states, are considered flawed democracies. Hybrid regimes are found in 37 countries, while authoritarianism reigns in 52.
The report scores countries based on five measures: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Based on their scores, countries are placed in one of four different regime categories: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.
It said almost one-half of the world’s population lives in a democracy of some sort, although only 11 per cent reside in full democracies, adding that some 2.6 billion people, more than one-third of the world’s population, still lives under authoritarian rule with a large share being in China.
The report said flawed democracies are concentrated in Latin America and eastern Europe, and to a lesser extent in Asia.
“This has affected mainly electronic media, which is often under state control or heavy state influence although repression and infringements of the freedom of expression have also extended to the print media and, most recently, the Internet,” said the report. The ranking shows the first 10 full democracies as Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Finland and the Netherlands.
And according to the report, the last 10 authoritarian regimes are Syria, Iran, Central African Republic, Saudi Arabia, Equatorial Guinea, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Chad and North Korea
The report said free and fair elections and civil liberties are necessary conditions for democracy, but they are unlikely to be sufficient for a full and consolidated democracy if unaccompanied by transparent and at least minimally efficient government, sufficient political participation and a supportive democratic political culture.
However, the report said: “It is not easy to build a sturdy democracy. Even in long-established ones, democracy can corrode if not nurtured and protected.”

World Press Freedom Index 2011

Nepal ranked 106th in World Press Freedom Index 2011/2012. Nepal witnessed a modest improvement in press freedom last year improving the ranking in the Press Freedom Index by 13 positions, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on 25th January 2012.
 “In Nepal, a decline in attacks by Maoist groups in the south and greater efficiency on the part of the justice system account for the modest improvement in the country’s ranking,” RSF said. “However, press freedom was marred by threats and attacks by politicians and armed groups throughout the year.” 
Nepal is ranked 106th. The country was at 119th position in Press Freedom Index 2010.
Nepal’s ranking is however one of the best ranking that the South Asian nations received. Only Bhutan (70) and Maldives (73) are ahead of Nepal while Bangladesh (129), India (131), Afghanistan (150), Pakistan (151) and Sri Lanka (163) all rank lower than Nepal.
The media freedom watchdog also added that the Nepali journalists were regularly subjected to threats from rival political groups and their supporters in 2011.
The report noted that violence and censorship on the rise in Asia as violence and impunity persist in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Philippines. It also noted more repression on press in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and China.
The Index assesses condition of freedom of expression in 179 countries, with first places occupied by Finland, Norway, Estonia, the Netherlands and Austria.
“With 10 deaths in 2011, Pakistan was the world’s deadliest country for journalists for the second year in a row,” the report said.
“This year’s index sees many changes in the rankings, changes that reflect a year that was incredibly rich in developments, especially in the Arab world,” RSF said on global review of media freedom. 
“Many media paid dearly for their coverage of democratic aspirations or opposition movements. Control of news and information continued to tempt governments and to be a question of survival for totalitarian and repressive regimes. The past year also highlighted the leading role played by netizens in producing and disseminating news.”
Syria, Bahrain, Yemen received their worst ever press freedom ranking Wednesday in Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) index for 2011, a tumultuous year that saw the downfall of several Arab dictators.
Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan came right at the bottom of the 10th annual list by the press freedom group, with the same clutch of European states -- led by Finland, Norway and Estonia -- at the top.
This year's index saw many changes in the rankings that reflect a year in which many media organisations paid dearly for their coverage of popular uprisings against veteran autocratic leaders, RSF said.
"Control of news and information continued to tempt governments and to be a question of survival for totalitarian and repressive regimes," said the Paris-based group.
RSF said it was no surprise that the same trio of countries -- Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan -- were bottom of the list because they were "absolute dictatorships that permit no civil liberties".
"They are immediately preceded at the bottom by Syria, Iran and China, three countries that seem to have lost contact with reality as they have been sucked into an insane spiral of terror," it said. 
Bahrain and Vietnam -- both described as "quintessential oppressive regimes" -- were also down at the bottom, while RSF said "other countries such as Uganda and Belarus have also become much more repressive".
Tunisia rose 30 places from last year's index to 134th but "has not yet fully accepted a free and independent press", according to RSF.
Bahrain, now ranked 173rd, fell 29 places because of its "relentless crackdown on pro-democracy movements, its trials of human rights defenders and its suppression of all space for freedom," the group said.
Egypt fell 39 places to 166th "because the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in power since February, dashed the hopes of democrats by continuing the (ousted president Hosni) Mubarak dictatorship's practices."
"Total censorship, widespread surveillance, indiscriminate violence and government manipulation made it impossible for journalists to work" in Syria last year, which fell to 176th position in the index.
Elsewhere, pro-democracy movements that tried to follow the Arab example were ruthlessly suppressed, with, for example, many arrests made in Vietnam (172nd), said RSF. 
In China, which ranks 174th, the government responded to regional and local protests and to public impatience with scandals by feverishly reinforcing its system of controlling news and information, it said.
China carried out extrajudicial arrests and stepped up internet censorship, it added. 
In Azerbaijan (162nd), there was a dramatic rise in the number of arrests, as the government jailed netizens, abducted opposition journalists and barred foreign reporters in order to impose a news blackout on unrest, it said.
Led by President Yoweri Museveni, Uganda (139th) launched "an unprecedented crackdown on opposition movements and independent media after the elections in February". 
Similarly, Chile (80th) fell 47 places because of its many freedom of information violations, committed very often by security forces during student protests. 
The United States (47th) also owed its fall of 27 places to the many arrests of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street protests. 
The index highlighted the divergence of some European countries from the rest of the continent. 
The crackdown on protests after President Alexander Lukashenko's re-election caused Belarus to fall 14 places to 168th. 
Turkey (148th) lost 10 places because it failed to carry out promised reforms and launched a wave of arrests of journalists that was without precedent since the military dictatorship, RSF said.
Within the European Union, the index reflected a continuation of the distinction between states like Finland and Netherlands that have always had a high ranking and states like Bulgaria (80th), Greece (70th) and Italy (61st).
RSF noted South Sudan among its "noteworthy changes" of 2011, pointing out that the new nation had entered the index in a respectable position (111th) for what is a breakaway from one of the worst ranked countries, Sudan (170th). 
But it said that Africa also saw the biggest falls in the index. 

All countries

1 Finland
- Norway
3 Estonia
- Netherlands
5 Austria
6 Iceland
- Luxembourg
8 Switzerland
9 Cape Verde
10 Canada
- Denmark
12 Sweden
13 New Zealand
14 Czech Republic
15 Ireland
16 Cyprus
- Jamaica
- Germany
19 Costa Rica
20 Belgium
- Namibia
22 Japan
- Surinam
24 Poland
25 Mali
- Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
- Slovakia
28 United Kingdom
29 Niger
30 Australia
- Lithuania
32 Uruguay
33 Portugal
34 Tanzania
35 Papua New Guinea
36 Slovenia
37 El Salvador
38 France
39 Spain
40 Hungary
41 Ghana
42 South Africa
- Botswana
44 South Korea
45 Comoros
- Taiwan
47 United States of America
- Argentina
- Romania
50 Latvia
- Trinidad and Tobago
52 Haiti
53 Moldova
54 Hong-Kong
- Mauritius
- Samoa
57 United States of America (extra-territorial)
58 Malta
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Guyana
61 Italy
62 Central African Republic
63 Lesotho
- Sierra Leone
- Tonga
66 Mozambique
67 Mauritania
68 Croatia
- Burkina Faso
70 Bhutan
- Greece
72 Nicaragua
73 Maldives
- Seychelles
75 Guinea-Bissau
- Senegal
77 Armenia
78 Kuwait
79 Togo
80 Serbia
- Bulgaria
- Chile
- Paraguay
84 Kenya
- Madagascar
86 Guinea
- Kosovo
- Timor-Leste
- Zambia
90 Congo
91 Benin
92 Israel (Israeli territory)
93 Lebanon
94 Macedonia
95 Dominican Republic
96 Albania
97 Cameroon
- Guatemala
99 Brazil
100 Mongolia
101 Gabon
102 Cyprus (North)
103 Chad
104 Ecuador
- Georgia
106 Nepal
107 Montenegro
108 Bolivia
- Kyrgyzstan
110 Liberia
111 South Sudan
112 United Arab Emirates
113 Panama
114 Qatar
115 Peru
116 Ukraine
117 Cambodia
- Fiji
- Oman
- Venezuela
- Zimbabwe
122 Algeria
- Tajikistan
- Malaysia
125 Brunei
126 Nigeria
127 Ethiopia
128 Jordan
129 Bangladesh
130 Burundi
131 India
132 Angola
133 Israel (extra-territorial)
134 Tunisia
135 Singapore
- Honduras
137 Thailand
138 Morocco
139 Uganda
140 Philippines
141 Gambia
142 Russia
143 Colombia
144 Swaziland
145 Democratic Republic of Congo
146 Indonesia
- Malawi
148 Turkey
149 Mexico
150 Afghanistan
151 Pakistan
152 Iraq
153 Palestinian Territories
154 Kazakhstan
- Libya
156 Rwanda
157 Uzbekistan
158 Saudi Arabia
159 Côte d’Ivoire
- Djibouti
161 Equatorial Guinea
162 Azerbaijan
163 Sri Lanka
164 Somalia
165 Laos
166 Egypt
167 Cuba
168 Belarus
169 Burma
170 Sudan
171 Yemen
172 Vietnam
173 Bahrein
174 China
175 Iran
176 Syria
177 Turkmenistan
178 North Korea
179 Eritrea

Friday, December 23, 2011

Daily Lives and Corruption, Public Opinion in S. Asia

More than one in three people who deal with public services in South Asia pay bribes, according to a new survey published on 22nd December 2011.
In the report, titled “Daily Lives and Corruption, Public Opinion in South Asia,” anticorruption group Transparency International surveyed 7,500 people between 2010 and 2011 in Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka on the frequency of bribes in those countries.
The survey asks respondents whether they think corruption has increased and which institutions are considered most corrupt. It also asks if people have paid a bribe in the past 12 months, to whom and for what.
“With bribery such a big a part of life for South Asians, you can see why so many people are angry at their governments for not tackling corruption. People are sick of paying bribes just to get on with their daily lives, and they are sick of the sleaze and undue influence of public servants,” Rukshana Nanayakkara, TI’s senior program coordinator for South Asia, said in a news release.
Political parties and the police are the most corrupt institutions in each of the six countries, followed closely by legislatures and public officials, according to the survey. Officials overseeing land deals were the next likely to demand a bribe, the survey found.
Bangladesh has the most rampant corruption, with 66% of people saying they pay bribes to public institutions. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis who dealt with the police ended up paying a bribe.
The study also found that most people think corruption is on the rise in the region, with 62% of those interviewed saying they believe corruption has become worse in the past three years. But 83% of people said they were ready get involved in fighting corruption.
39% of people report paying a bribe in the past 12 months. The result was startlingly high in Bangladesh at 66 per cent, followed by India and Pakistan, with 54 per cent and 49 per cent respectively reporting having paid a bribe to one of nine service providers in the past 12 months. 
62% of people feel that corruption in their country has increased in the past three years. This was felt most strongly in India and Pakistan, where three out of four people felt that corruption had increased over the past three years. Government leaders were named as the most trusted to fight corruption by 38% of people.
Government leaders were named as the most trusted to fight corruption in Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The media was the most trusted institution in India and Nepal. In Pakistan the highest proportion of people reported that they trust ‘nobody’ to fight corruption.
81% of people agree that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption. People are especially positive in the Maldives and Pakistan, where 90 per cent and 89 per cent respectively agree that ordinary people can make a difference. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Outlook for Remittance Flows 2012-14

Nepal has ranked 6th among all countries across the globe that receive more remittances as a share of gross domestic product in 2011, says a report released on 1st December 2011 of the World Bank on Migration and Development.
The Outlook for Remittance Flows 2012-14 estimates that Nepal will receive around US$ 400 million worth of remittances from its overseas workers in 2011, making remittances stand at 20 percent of country´s total GDP. 
“Tajikistan, Lesotho, Samoa, Moldova and Kyrgyz Republic are the top five countries receiving more remittances as a share of GDP, and Nepal stands at the 6th place,” says the report. Remittances received by these top five countries were equal to 31 percent, 29 percent, 25 percent, 23 percent and 21 percent of their respective GDPs.
The new estimates show that the top recipients of remittances among developing countries in 2011 are India (US$58 billion), followed by China (US$57 billion), Mexico (US$ 24 billion) and the Philippines (US$ 23 billion). Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Vietnam, Egypt and Lebanon are other large recipients in terms of US dollar.
The report estimates that remittance flows to developing countries in 2011 could have touched US$ 351 billion. This is 8 percent growth over what those countries received in 2010 and well above the growth forecast of 7.3 percent that the WB had made earlier.
When flows to high-income countries are included, the global remittance flows could touch US$406 billion this year.
“And this is the first time since the global financial crisis that remittance flows to all developing regions have increased in 2011”, reads the report. 
The report attributes the rise in remittance flows to countries like Nepal to high oil prices, something which enabled Gulf countries to hire more workers and pay them better than the past few years. The depreciation of local currency, which enabled families back home enjoy net exchange rate gains, also contributed in the flow of remittances in countries like Nepal.
Such finding of the WB matches with the figures that the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) released recently. The latest macro-economic report that NRB made public on Wednesday says Nepal received some Rs 75 billion worth of remittances over the first quarter of this fiscal year, which is about 28 percent rise over remittances received in the same period last year.
The report further adds that even though remittances to developing countries grew in 2011, they are vulnerable to the uncertain economic prospects in the migrant destination countries. Following this rebound, the WB predicts that the remittance flows to developing countries could continue in a range of 7-8 percent per annum and reach US$441 billion by 2014.
The remittances are expected to increase 8.0 percent to $351 billion in 2011, 7.3 percent to $377 billion in 2012, 7.9 percent to $406 billion in 2013, and 8.4 percent to $441 billion in 2014.
Global remittance flows, including those to high-income countries, are expected to exceed $515 billion by 2014.
Remittances to the developing economies in East Asia and the Pacific are projected to rise 7.6 percent to $101 billion in 2011 and 7.3 percent to $109 billion in 2012. They are forecast to increase by another 8.0 percent to $117 billion in 2013 and 8.7 percent to $127 billion by 2014.
The World Bank report says that high oil prices, which have hovered over $100 a barrel in recent months, continue to provide a much-needed cushion for migrant employment in, and remittance flows from, the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) and Russia. Oil driven economic activities and increased spending on infrastructure development are making these countries attractive for migrants from developing countries.
The report acknowledges that the remittance costs have fallen steadily from 8.8 percent in 2008 to 7.3 percent in the third quarter of 2011. However, it pinpoints that the cost is still too high, especially in Africa and other small nations where remittances provide a lifeline to the poor.
Following such finding, the WB has pressed the countries across the globe to improve the data on remittances at the national and bilateral levels.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Corruption Perception Index - 2011

Nepal is the second most corrupt country in the South Asia, according to an annual report  by the global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI).
The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2011, published by TI on 1st December 2011, Nepal is ranked at the154th position on the list of the least corrupt countries. Last year, Nepal was placed in the 146th position.  
Among the South Asian countries, Bhutan is the least corrupt country placed in the 38th position and Afghanistan being the most corrupt country ranked in the 182th position.
Similarly, Sri Lanka is placed in the 86th, India in the 95th, Bangladesh in the 120th and Pakistan and the Maldives jointly in the 134th positions.
The TI report says that corruption continues to plague too many countries around the world. According to the Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, some governments failing to protect citizens from corruption be it abuse of public resources, bribery or secretive decision-making.
Transparency International warned that protests around the world, often fuelled by corruption and economic instability, clearly show citizens feel their leaders and public institutions are neither transparent nor accountable enough.
The 2011 index scores 183 countries and territories from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean) based on perceived levels of public sector corruption. It uses data from 17 surveys that look at factors such as enforcement of anti-corruption laws, access to information and conflicts of interest. Two-thirds of ranked countries score less than five. New Zealand ranks first, followed by Finland and Denmark. Somalia, North Korea (included in the index for the first time) and Myanmar are last.
1. New Zealand 9.5
• 2. Denmark 9.4
• 2. Finland 9.4
4. Sweden 9.3
5. Singapore 9.2
6. Norway 9.0
7. Netherlands 8.9
• 8. Australia 8.8
• 8. Switzerland 8.8
10. Canada 8.7
11. Luxembourg 8.5
12. Hong Kong 8.4
13. Iceland 8.3
• 14. Germany 8.0
• 14. Japan 8.0
• 168. Angola 2.0
• 168. Chad 2.0
• 168. Democratic Republic of Congo 2.0
• 168. Libya 2.0
• 172. Burundi 1.9
• 172. Equatorial Guinea 1.9
• 172. Venezuela 1.9
• 175. Haiti 1.8
• 175. Iraq 1.8
• 177. Sudan 1.6
• 177. Turkmenistan 1.6
• 177. Uzbekistan 1.6
• 180. Afghanistan 1.5
• 180. Myanmar 1.5
• 182. North Korea 1.0
• 182. Somalia 1.0