Nepal has a land mass of around 147,181 km² situated between India and China with a population of over 29 million inhabitants.
Nepal is a least developed country, the 16th poorest country in the world and the 2nd poorest in Asia (after Afghanistan), but aspires to reach middle-income status by 2030. The country has halved extreme poverty (SDG 1) in the past 15 years, and is on track to bring it down to less than 5% by 2030.
The country is prone to natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and earthquakes. The economy is primarily based on agriculture and tourism, but also largely depends on remittances – representing approx. 30% of GDP. Nepal adopted a new constitution in September 2015, providing to transform the country into a federal state.
The country requires strong inclusive economic growth and job creation, to reduce its trade deficit and promote foreign direct investments notably for connectivity. It needs to ensure a successful transition to a federal state, ensure quality education for all, modernise its agriculture, manage out-migration and address high levels of inequality, as certain communities are still marginalised or discriminated on the basis of caste, ethnicity, and in particular on gender, and ensure transitional justice. The country also needs to foster its resilience to natural disasters and climate change.
For over 45 years, the EU and Nepal have been working together in close partnership and with mutual respect. The EU has been supporting Nepal’s efforts to transform into a more prosperous, democratic and egalitarian nation.
EU-Nepal cooperation during the period of 2014-2020 is guided by Nepal’s priorities of poverty reduction and sharing of economic prosperity, developing physical infrastructure, good governance and post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation, through four sectors: sustainable rural development, education, democracy and reconstruction, for which €360 million has been allocated.
Within this framework, we pay particular attention to governance, equity and human rights:
- In synergy with the Multi-Annual Indicative Programme, the EU provides aid for trade to further maximise the “everything but arms” trade regime that Nepal currently enjoys.
- The EU also promotes sustainable consumption and production, and fosters investments notably in energy connectivity.
- A large number of Nepalese students benefit from the Erasmus Mundus + programmes.
- Thematic assistance focuses on fighting gender based violence and cast discrimination, the promotion of freedom of expression, decent treatment of prisoners, assistance to Tibetan and Bhutanese refugees, and support to the electoral process.
1) Rebuilding Nepal together after the devastating earthquakes of 2015
The EU provided humanitarian assistance, €90 million in budget support, and €5 million for capacity building. EU financial transfers and capacity building measures were instrumental to support Nepal’s National Policy for Reconstruction - which achieved remarkable results. The EU continues to support Nepal’s resilience through capacity building actions, and most EU programmes in Nepal mainstream aspects of resilience to disasters. In addition, special programmes were developed to provide much needed support through the Instrument contributing to stability and peace (IcSP).
- Of the total 788,015 beneficiaries, 763,472 have signed agreements with local authorities to receive the government's private housing grant of RS 300,000 (as of April 2019).
- 650 transitional learning centres were established and 51,550 children supported
- 88km of trails were rehabilitated and 35,812 porters given employment after the earthquake
2) Quality education for all
In the 1950s, Nepal's literacy rate was 2%. Today it has increased to nearly 70%.
The EU has been supporting the School sector reform programme (SSRP) for many years, and currently supports Nepal’s school sector development plan (SSDP) 2016-2023. EU assistance has contributed to enhance access to education, improve quality of basic education, better and safer school facilities; and more equitable access to education, but deeply entrenched gender, equity and social exclusion issues remain to be addressed.
Every year, the program benefits over 7 million students, as well as over 180,000 teachers and early childhood education and development facilitators in over 30,000 community schools and centres across the country.
3) Creating employment and income in rural areas
EU supports rural economy, by fostering increased and competitive agricultural productivity, market access, sustainable management of natural resources, enhance nutrition, job creation, infrastructure development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and increased resilience.
EU support to trade and private sector development in Nepal has significantly enhanced the coffee value chain in the 8 district targeted:
- average increase in income by 87% in project areas with presence of cooperatives and collection centres.
- coffee production expected to increase by up to 30%.
4) Bring renewable energy to 7,200 households
EU supports access to energy and connectivity through its contribution to the construction of a 35km electricity transmission line.
5) Nepal has come to an end of a long and difficult political transition process
The EU’s Election Support Programme enhanced the capacity of the Election Commission and other stakeholders primarily in the areas of election planning and operations, electoral training, voter education, promoting peaceful elections, electoral dispute resolution and gender and social inclusion.
- Nepal adopted a new, progressive constitution in 2015.
- Elections in 2017/18 were proven highly successful and a positive first step in implementation of federalism.
- Following a gender quota set during the last elections, women now hold 40.9% of locally elected positions.
6) Peace process
In 2011 the EU joined and contributed to Nepal Peace Trust Fund – NPTF (EUR 18 million), the joint initiative of the Nepal government together with international development partners to support the implementation of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) that ended the decade-long armed conflict.
PEOPLE – human development and dignity
- Supporting Nepal's School Sector (SuNSS)
- EU-Nepal Practical Partnership for Technical Vocational Education and Training reform -TVET- PP
- Nepal-EU Partnership for Enhanced Nutrition
- Support to the second phase of the Multi Sector Nutrition Plan (under preparation)
- Various projects through Aid to Uprooted People (AUP) actions
- Action for Recovery and Reconstruction in Nepal (NEARR)
PLANET – protecting the environment, managing natural resources and tackling climate change
- Various SWITCH Asia projects promoted sustainable production and consumption
- WAVE programme to implement the Rural Village Water Resources Management Project, Phase III
PROSPERITY – inclusive and sustainable growth and jobs
- EU Contribution to Agriculture and Rural Development” (CARD),
- Trade and Private Sector Development in Nepal / Trade and Investment Programme
- Asia Investment Facility (AIF)
PEACE – Peaceful and inclusive societies, democracy, effective and accountable institutions, rule of law and human rights for all
- EU support to Federalism (under preparation)
- Public finance management
- Support to the electoral process
- Various projects to support civil society and local authorities (CSO/LA)
Various projects under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)