Social protection

New report on the state of social protection in Nepal

ILO has published a new report that reviews Nepal’s social security system to understand existing protection gaps from the lens of national targets, and international standards and principles.

Press release | Kathmandu, Nepal | 10 May 2023
Life in Nepal. © ILO
KATHMANDU, Nepal (ILO News) - The new report reviews Nepal's social security system to understand existing protection gaps from the lens of national targets, and international standards and principles.  At the same time, the report also identifies several opportunities to extend coverage, improve adequacy and enhance effectiveness and sustainability of existing programmes and the system.

Nepal has made immense advances in expanding social protection to the most vulnerable groups including senior citizens, women, indigenous and endangered ethnicities, and children. Social protection stands high in the country’s development agenda, given its positive social and economic impacts. In line with international standards, the Government of Nepal has recognized social protection as a right in the 2015 Constitution. There are more than 70 social security programmes in Nepal.

However, despite progress, only about one third of the population have access to any social protection provisions. Approximately 20.1 million Nepalis remain without any form of social protection. There are substantial gaps in coverage for children, persons of working age, particularly workers in the informal economy and self-employment, maternity protection, and universal health care. While Nepal outperforms global and regional averages for the percentage of social protection for senior citizens, only 13.7 per cent of children have access to income support. Approximately 16.9 million women and men of working age do not have any form of social protection. Healthcare coverage is significantly low with only 17.7 per cent of the population is affiliated with a social health protection scheme, and coverage for maternity protection has reached only 0.81 per cent of women giving birth.

“The report is the first of a series of studies conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) Nepal, and funded by European Union, to review the existing social protection system of the country, and will be followed by a rigorous fiscal space analysis to support the Government in moving towards a more balanced allocation of public resources in social protection,” said Numan Özcan, ILO Country Director for Nepal.

In the broad landscape of Nepal’s social protection, the recent introduction of contribution-based system is a landmark that will significantly expand protection for workers and their families. According to Honourable Dr Ram Kumar Phuyal, Member of the National Planning Commission, “There needs to be a coordinated approach between contributory and non-contributory measures to cover all sections of the population. When contributory measures build on and complement the existing non-contributory programmes, it increases the long-term fiscal sustainability of the system and ensure people are protected independently of their work situation.”

For further information please contact:

Ms Suravi Bhandary
National Project Coordinator