Dealing with 40 Million Nepalis

There are no quick-fixes to Nepal's population problem. It is past time to begin a resolute, long-term programme of fertility control.

Even though Nepal has been attempting to regulate population growth over the past couple of decades, the results have been less than satisfactory. The country's population reached 19 million in 1990 from 5.6 million in 1911, 6.3 million in 1941 and 15 million in 1981. While it took 60 years for the population to double between 1911 and 1971, at the prevailing annual population growth rate of 2.6 per cent it will take only another 25 years for it to double again.

There are 50 new mouths to feed in Nepal every hour, 1200 every day and 450,000 every year. There will be 24 million Nepalis crowded into these hills and plains by the turn of the century. A majority of these will be of economically and socially dependent age of below 15 years and above 60 years.

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Himal Southasian