KATHMANDU, August 18, 2010 – The World Bank will provide US$ 177.5 million to help poor and underserved Nepalis use essential health services and highly food-insecure households access nutritious food.
Two agreements were signed here today by Mr. Rameshore Prasad Khanal, Finance Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Ms. Susan Goldmark, the World Bank Country Director for Nepal.
The Second Heath, Nutrition and Population (HNP) and HIV/AIDS Project will support the Nepal Health Sector Program II – the Government of Nepal’s five year program (2010-2015). The US$ 129.2 million project will build on the World Bank’s on-going support to Nepal’s health sector since 2004.
More than 70 percent of the Ministry of Health and Population budget finances “essential health services”, referring to a specific package of cost-effective interventions which seek to improve reproductive, maternal and child health, to prevent the impact of non-communicable diseases and to control communicable diseases. The project will support the expansion and strengthening of these services with a focus on better reaching the poor and excluded segments of the society.
Four external development partners, the World Bank, the Department for International Development of the UK (DFID), the Australian Government’s aid agency (AusAid) and the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) have agreed to pool finances to meet a slice of Nepal’s health sector expenditures. Other funding partners will provide technical and financial assistance directly as partners of Nepal’s health program.
The Social Safety Nets Project will provide additional financing of US$ 48.3 million to the Government of Nepal to help improve food security and create opportunities for improved agriculture production in food insecure districts.
The project, which started in September 2008, has supported 28 chronically food insecure districts including the districts of Sunsari and Saptari affected by the Koshi floods. Food and cash for work programs carried out under the project are having immediate impacts on the lives of communities. With new financing provided to the project, food security is expected to improve for over 90,000 food insecure households through a partnership between the Ministry of Local Development and the World Food Program.
In Nepal 3.7 million people are currently food insecure. The additional financing will support public works schemes in selected Village Development Committees and the production of improved seeds of varieties which are more suitable for drought prone and food insecure areas. The project will also pilot a “community challenge fund” in a few districts to assist community-based organizations to directly take charge of improving maternal and young child nutrition.
The Ministry of Local Development also implements cash transfer programs aimed at reaching more than 905,000 beneficiaries. The project will therefore focus on helping local governments improve capacity to monitor social safety net programs and ensure that these are reaching the intended households and individuals.
“The two projects will help address problems that are closely inter-linked,” said Ms. Susan Goldmark, the World Bank Country Director for Nepal. “Improvements in health outcomes will depend to a large extent on improvements in nutrition among food-insecure populations,” she said. “While Nepal has made progress in the health sector, malnutrition has worsened over the years. Today, one in nearly every seven Nepalis do not have enough food at home to feed themselves and their families and one in nearly three child under the age of five is underweight. Nearly half of all children suffer from stunting and chances are they may never achieve their full potential”.