Fertility decline in Nepal

Given the striking decrease in the country’s fertility rate, Nepal is an unusual success story. It has achieved such a rapid fertility decline in the face of significant and complex development challenges. Of the nation’s 27.8 million inhabitants, 30% live below the poverty line and many ethnic minority groups experience both extreme poverty and social and cultural exclusion.

Nepal is still recovering from a decade of intense political violence and conflict, the end result of which was to eliminate the hereditary monarchy in favour of an independent republic. Ranked 142 out of 177 countries on the Human Development Index, the Nepalese government has multiple social

and economic issues to tackle.

Nevertheless, the government, in collaboration with development partners, has made considerable progress towards improving national health outcomes. For example, the infant mortality rate decreased from 71 per 1,000 live births in 2001 to 56 per 1,000 live births in 2007. Similarly, the maternal mortality rate, though still extremely high at 740 per 100,000 births, has dropped from the rate of 830 deaths per 100,000 births in 2001. Using data from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), this brief focuses on Nepal’s recent fertility decline and argues that, despite historically high fertility levels, the nation is now in a period of fertility transition

MSI and SPN’s contribution to fertility decline in Nepal

Without question, a substantial part of Nepal’s successful lowering of national fertility rates is due to the coordinated efforts of both the Nepali government and participating national and international development organisations. Among non government actors, SPN’s work has been instrumental in expanding the market for modern family planning methods. It is estimated that SPN contributed about eight percent of the total modern method use in the country in 2006.