Field Work of Rural Development


A Report on









Submitted by:

Name: Ishwar Kumar Bhattarai

Exam Roll No. 9620113 ( Private )

T.U. Reg. No.: 6-1-999-848-2004

Central Department of Public Administration

Tribhuvan University



In Partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Master degree
on Public Administration (MPA)










Submitted to:

Central Department of Public Administration

Tribhuvan University

March, 2016

  1. Introduction

Nepal is a land locked country in South Asia bordered by China to the north and India in the south, east and west. The total land area of the country is 147, and Nepal’s population is around 25.8 million (Central Bureau of Statistics, 2006). The population growth rate of the country is approximately 2.2 in number where as its GDP is around 3 percent. Nepal is one of the least developed countries in the world and its per capita income is about 300 US dollar. The literacy rate in the country is around 54 %. The 31 % population of the country is under the poverty line. According to the Human Development Index 2006, the country is ranked 138 out of 177 countries for having poor living standard (UNDP/N, 2006). These facts and figures indicate that Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world.


The general objective of this paper is to examine poverty situation and to look at the poverty alleviation policies, programs and activities of the state. The main focus of this paper is to assess the involvement of bureaucratic means in order to alleviate poverty in Nepal. The paper has also observed poverty alleviation initiatives made by                  non-bureaucratic means since 1990.  This study is mainly based on secondary data collected from books, reports, policy documents, and articles. The information from my personal experiences is also used since I have been associated with public bureaucracy for more than one decade.


Poverty alleviation has been one of the top priorities for the national development since 1976. And the bureaucracy has been used as the main means in formulating and implementing poverty alleviation policies and programs from the very beginning. However, one third of country’s population is under the poverty line and they are living without having very basic needs-foods, cloths, and shelter that just need for the survival of human beings. Why high percentages of population are so poor in the country? I, through this paper have tried to understand the possible reasons. Looking at the great deal of bureaucracy in dealing with poverty, my guiding hypothesis is that “bureaucratic means have the effects on achieving or non-achieving poverty alleviation objective”. In this paper, poverty alleviation is a dependent variable and role of bureaucratic means is the independent variable.


  1. Bureaucratic means in dealing with poverty

To meet the over all objective of poverty alleviation, bureaucracy has been used as the principal institution to deal with poverty reduction policies, programs and activities. Therefore, bureaucratic institutions have the dominant role in identifying problems of poverty, formulating policy instruments, implementing, monitoring and evaluating policies, strategies, programs and activities of poverty reduction. Almost all financial and human resources have been mobilized through the bureaucratic channel in reducing poverty in the country since 1976 when poverty was officially noticed by the state. From the institutional point of view, the National Planning Commission (NPC) is the apex institution that formulates national policies for over all development of the nation including poverty alleviation. The Chairman of the Commission is the Prime Minister and other members are nominated by the government agencies. The NPC is supposed to act independently as the body of policy think tank. However, other human resources to the NPC come from the government. Therefore, over all performance of the Commission depends on the performance of the bureaucratic institutions.


Poverty alleviation policies formulated by the NPC are to be implemented by other sectoral line Ministries of the government. For example, Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives is responsible for decision making and implementing poverty reduction programs and activities in the agriculture sector. The Ministry of Health and Population, and the Ministry of Education both are the important state institutions that deal with poverty reduction through delivering health and education services. The Ministries of Land Reforms and Local Development are also the key Ministries of the government to work for poor population in the country. Likewise, Ministry of Labour and Transport, Ministry of Forest and Conservation are other sectoral Ministries in promoting poverty reduction programs. Finally, the quite important fact in Nepal, probably elsewhere is that, implementation of policies and programs of the government depends on the annual programs and budget allocated by the Ministry of Finance which often contradict or de-emphasize the national policies (Dhakal, 2001). It is because the Ministry of Finance shows financial resource constraints while other institutions ask for money in order to accomplish poverty reduction programs.


Therefore, all level of bureaucratic agencies and bureaucrats working at the different Ministries and Departments from top to bottom are the main actors for policy formulation, decision making, implementation and evaluation of poverty alleviation programs and activities. Therefore, almost all policies, programs and activities of the poverty alleviation had/have been left to the bureaucratic institutions for their implementation.


  1. Policies and programs to deal with poverty reduction

The Government of Nepal has been carrying  various poverty reduction activities since early 1970s- such as Subsidized ration distribution to the poor population, Production input distribution e.g. subsidized fertilizers for agriculture production, Integrated community development projects, Food and feeding programs with the assistance of world food program, Food for work program e.g. construction of infrastructure, skills generating programs for poor people, Bishweshwar[1] among the poor program- support for their livelihood, Western terai (west south part of the country)  poverty alleviation project, Jagriti women income generating program and Self-employment for poverty alleviation in Arun Valley (Cited from Dhakal, 2002) etc.  In spite of these pro poor programs and activities, the percentage of poor people has not been reduced as per the targets. In view with considerable figures of poor population in the country, poverty alleviation has been constantly become the top prioritized agenda of the nation in the following three periodic plans.






Main objectives, poverty reduction targets and achievements of the three consecutive five year periodic plans

Eight Plan, 1992-1997 Ninth Plan, 1997-2002 Tenth Plan, 2002-2007
1.Sustainable Economic Growth Poverty Alleviation

Integration of Sectoral Development Activities


Target was 42 to 32%,, Only reduced on 38 %


Poverty Alleviation


Target was 38 to 30 %


Only reduced on 31%


2. Poverty Reduction
3. Reduction of Regional Imbalance

Target- NA

Source-  PRSP Document, NPC, Govt/N


The table shows that the poverty alleviation program has been the most prioritized agenda of the Government since 1990. Following the restoration of democracy in 1990, poverty reduction was one of the main objectives of the Eight (1992-1997) and Ninth Periodic Plan (1997-2002). Looking at the widespread poverty in the nation, the Tenth Periodic Plan, 2002-2007 has clearly mentioned that poverty alleviation is the single objective of the nation. Therefore, long-term targets and development indicators of all sectors in the nation are set out towards over all objective of poverty alleviation (PRSP, 2002-2007). Despite these various efforts of poverty alleviation over the different periodic plans of the state, there is around 31 % population who are living below the absolute poverty line yet (CBS, 2006). Even those people who are above the nationally adopted poverty line, they are also living with measurable conditions in terms of basic things such as subsistence, cloths, shelter, health and sanitation, and education services.


In view with high percentage of poor population and incidents of ups and down of marginal poor, the Government has now adopted various economic reforms programs such as trade and commerce, fiscal and monetary, and capital formation. And poverty alleviation is being dealt as the cross cutting issues of the national development. These reforms have brought some positive impact on non-agricultural sector, but the reforms in economic sector are still unable to bring the positive impacts in the field of agriculture where around 70 % populations are engaged. Learning from the past experience of poverty alleviation, the Tenth Plan (2002-2007) has set up following four policy pillars which are the latest governmental strategies to fight against poverty in the country.

  1. High, sustainable and broad based on economic growth,
  2. B. Social sector development (education and health services) and rural infrastructures,
  3. C. Social inclusion and targeted programs for poor people,
  4. D. Good Governance, (PRSP 2002-2007)


The first pillar focuses on the sustainable economic growth in both agriculture and industrial sectors. The second pillar mainly stresses on the development of educational, health and water supply services. The main focus of the third pillar is on mainstreaming gender and deprived communities in the national development process. The fourth pillar primarily focuses on the reforms of public governance. The all these four policy pillars at the same time are equally essential for improving the lives of the poor, mainstreaming very poor marginalized groups, and for promoting inclusive development. In implementing these four-pillar strategies of poverty alleviation, it gives the stress on the strategic cross-cutting approaches with regard to redefining the role of the state, limiting the government intervention, promoting private sector to play a leading role in employment and income generation, working together with NGOs, INGOs and Civil Society in complementing government efforts of effective service delivery to the poor people. The priority is also on the promotion of community participation in the management of pro poor activities at the local level. Finally, good governance is one of the fundamental pillars for the improvement of the state capacity to deal with poverty alleviation as a whole in the country.


  1. Existing poverty situation

Despite a great deal of state bureaucracy working with poverty alleviation policies, programs and activities, a huge number of Nepal’s population is below the poverty line. What does poverty line mean? According to the definition of poverty line made by the World Bank, it is those people whose income is less than one dollar per day. This measure is fixed in terms of minimum calorie requirements, housing and essential non food components. Asian Development Bank views poverty as a deprivation of essential assets and opportunities to which every human being is entitled (ADB, 1999). Considering these general global measurements of poverty, poverty line in Nepal is determined in terms of adequacy of income to purchase basic needs. According to Nepal Living Standard Survey, based on annual income NPRS 7696[2], 31% of the population are below the poverty line[3].  Therefore, by absolute poverty we mean in Nepal is lack of minimal requirements for survival of human being-foods, clothes, shelter, health, and education.


There are some variations in measuring poverty in the world. Individual nations may have their own parameters to measure poverty whereas World Bank and Asian Development Bank have their own indicators. However, poverty is generally measured on the basis of following three indicators

  1. Head Count Index, which measures the incidence or prevalence of poverty.
  2. Poverty Gap Index, which measures intensity[4] of poverty.
  3. Squared Poverty Gap Index, which measures severity[5] of poverty.

(Cited from CBS, GOVT/N, 2003/4)


In Nepal, the study of poverty is mainly based on the Head Count Index that measures incidence or prevalence of poverty and the data comes with number and percentage of poor population. Less data are available on Poverty Gap Index and Squared Poverty Gap Index. Therefore, the data which have been presented in this paper are mainly based on the Head Count Index of poverty measurement. The following table shows the poverty prevalence situation in percentage on the basis of Head Count Index over the years.





Population under the poverty line over the years in Nepal

1976 1985 1995 2006
33% 41% 42% 31%

Source: National Planning Commission and Central Bureau of Statistics/N 2015

The table shows that the percentage of below poverty line people has not been basically reduced over the three decades. Though poverty level reduced in the year of 1995 to 2006 by 11%, it has remained almost at the same figure even 30 years later. The poverty was further increased in the decades of 1980s and 1990s.


There is also a wide variation of poverty in different geographical areas of the country and the following table highlights the figures of poverty in mountainous areas (north part), hilly areas (mid part), and terai areas (south part).


Geography based below poverty line population in Nepal, 2003/4

Geographical Area Head Count Index %
Mountains Area, North Part 33
Hilly Area, Mid Part   35
Terai Area, South Part 28

Source: Poverty Trends in Nepal, CBS, GOV/N 2015

The figure shows that people who live in the hilly and mountainous parts of the country are very poor in comparison with south part of the country.


There is also wide variations of poverty among five administratively divided regions of the country from East to West of the country.


Region based below poverty line population, 2003/4

Eastern Region Central Region Western Region Mid-West


Far-West Region
29% 27% 27% 45% 41%

Source: Poverty Trends in Nepal, CBS, GM/N 2015

The table indicates that the prevalence of poverty is quite much more in the Mid West and Far West regions of the country in comparison with other regions.


If we compare the poverty level in rural and urban sector as indicated in following table, poverty is quite alarming rate in the rural area of the country.



Rural / Urban Poverty in Nepal

Area Head Count Index %
Rural Poverty 35
Urban  Poverty 10

Nepal in Figures, Central Bureau of Statistics/N 2015


The table clearly indicates that poverty in rural part of the country is more than three times in comparison with urban area.


Looking at the preceded subsections on the bureaucratic institutions (sub-section, 2) involved in alleviating poverty and the existing poverty situation of the country               (sub-section, 4), the following sub-section discuses the reasons for non-achieving poverty reduction objectives from the side of bureaucratic means.


  1. Why Nepalese bureaucracy can not work more for the poor?

Before starting the discussion on this sub-section, reviews of some important figures of poverty would be appropriate to see the trends of poverty in the country. The 31%  (2006) figure of below poverty line population is certainly less than the poor population of  1995 (42%). But if we compare this 2006 figure of poverty with the poverty figure of 1976 which was 33%, then there is no any considerable reduction of poverty as a whole (See Table-2). Likewise, if we look at the poverty reduction targets and achievements of the Ninth and Tenth Plan these were/are not met as per the targets. The Ninth plan had targeted to reduce absolute poverty line 42% to 32%, but it reduced only to 38% at the end of the Plan period, 1997-2002. Similarly, the target of the Tenth Plan was to reduce poverty from 38% to 30% at the end of its plan period, 2007 (See Table-1). But, the poverty figure of 2006 (31%) indicates that it will remain in the same figure at the end of 2007 too. The government has also a twenty years Poverty Reduction Plan, 1997-2017 which aims to reduce poverty to 10 % (See PRSP, 2002-2007 p. 10) at the end of this plan. However, aforementioned figures of poverty indicate this objective would not achieve by 2017.


Furthermore, if we look at the intensity and severity of poverty in the country, the case is much more disappointed. The large numbers of population are living with very measurable conditions in Nepal. The cases of hunger, deprivation of basic things-drinking water, minimum unit of land just for shelter and lack of minimum units of cloths frequently come to the notice. The poverty in the rural area of mid and far western part of the country is much more serious, which is more acute and alarming. I would like to mention herewith a very striking case of poverty that belongs to rural hunger and gives an account of intensity and severity of poverty in Nepal. There was a hunger induced news in June 2007 that  happened in Dailekh District, north Mid-West part of the country which I had read as same as many Nepalese and foreigners who were in Nepal at that time (Katmandu Post and other National News Papers, 2007 June, 28/29). The District Branch of Food Corporation had dumped the date expired rice for disposal which was totally rotten. Then many poor people came from villages and collected the dumped decayed rice and ate it. The rice was supplied to the district under the World Food Program and it was stored for four years. But the public authority failed to distribute it in time and it was therefore decayed. Like this case there are also a number of cases of bureaucratic inefficiency to delivery the goods and services to the poor people in the country.


The objective of highlighting this poverty induced case is to map inability of public institutions to alleviate poverty in rural area of Nepal. The case indicates that bureaucratic institutions which are the main means of implementation and monitoring of poverty alleviation programs of the country are almost unable to work for poor people basically in rural parts. The policy document (PRSP, 2002-2007) of the government has also accepted that weak governance is one of the major constraints to address rural poverty effectively. Lack of measurement of responsiveness and accountability in bureaucracy to implement poverty alleviation policies and programs is one of the main reasons for not meeting the targets of poverty reduction. Responsiveness and sense of accountability depends on the perceptions of the implementers. For the effective implementation of policies and programs, perceptions of the implementers have the great impact. Perceptions are a mixture of evaluative and non-evaluative understandings of a situation. Perceptions are a combination of cognitions[6], norms[7] and values[8] (Reis and Moore, 2005, p.3). By perception of implementers here I mean in this study is about level of bureaucratic understandings on poverty issues. If implementers search for meaning of poverty, reasons for poverty, consequences of poverty, and values of poverty reduction measures then poverty alleviation program would be effective in real sense.


Furthermore, Nepalese bureaucracy has been evolved through feudal social norms and which have not been changed yet (Bajhrachrya, 2001). These feudal characteristics are counted so much for their ineffectiveness to carry out poverty alleviation policies into action as per the spirit of citizen orientated bureaucracy. Nepalese bureaucracy is organized as same as Weberian model of bureaucracy-including hierarchy, rules and regulation…(Scott, 2003, p.46) which are being criticized for non performing characteristics to carryout poverty alleviation activities in the country. Bureaucratic actors in traditional administration only perform their routine jobs as regulative institutions which is not sufficient for handling development activities. Taking into account of prevailing inefficiency of public bureaucracy in Nepal, good governance that government has also taken one of the forth pillars of the poverty alleviation here comes very crucial.


There is a linkage between good governance and poverty reduction agenda (Wilson et al. 2001, p.4). Therefore, in absence of good governance variables its impact will be also on poverty alleviation campaign in any countries. What does good governance mean? According to the World Bank (cited from Pierre, 2000) good governance means creating an effective political framework-stable political regime, rule of law, efficient state administration, and a strong civil society. In 1999 onward World Bank has focused on accountability, transparency, corruption control, and legal and judicial reforms as the important features of good governance.  According to the report of Asian Development Bank (1999) good governance ensures transparent use of public funds, growth of non-governmental sectors, and promotes effective delivery of public services. In connection to poverty reduction movement in Nepal, aforementioned features of good governance still lack in Nepalese public administration. For example, recently published Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Plan International 2007 has revealed that corruption in Nepal is increasing and the country is ranked in 131st position with 2.5 CPI score[9] out of 180 countries. In 2004, Nepal’s CPI score was 2.8 (Plan International/N, 2007 September 26). The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper/N, (2002-2007, p. 62) also sees corrupt practices and misuse of public resources in the public sector are also the responsible factors in order to fight against poverty in Nepal.


In order to poverty alleviation, good governance is about formulation of poverty alleviation policies that can rightly address poor people and also address the consequences of poverty in the country. The next stage comes to the implementation of polices, programs and delivery of goods and services to the poor people. These sequential policy processes ultimately brings the positive impacts on the livelihood of the poor population which is deficit in Nepal. From good governance point view, highly motivated employees with full sense of responsibility are desirable. In contrast, the pay scale in Nepalese bureaucracy is low and that has made Nepalese bureaucracy least motivated. Non-motivated administration from central to local level has its impact on planning to implementation of policies and programs of poverty reduction which is also a major factor for non-meeting the set goals of poverty alleviation.


Successful implementation often requires sufficient institutional mechanisms and well co-ordinated relationships among members of different organizations (Van Meter and Van Horn, 1975) which is absence in the case of poverty reduction in Nepal.  Lack of      co-ordination between and among different Ministries and Governmental agencies to carry out pro-poor programs and activities is also another cause for not getting success in alleviating poverty. Furthermore, more vertical and top down (Hill and Hupe, 2006.44) approach of program setting and implementation has also weakened the capacity of local community to generate pro-poor programs and their implementation at the local level. By considering all these variables, it can be sensitized that public governance is ineffective to conceptualize, formulate, implement, monitor and evaluate the policies, programs, and activities of poverty alleviation. Therefore, public bureaucracy was/is unable to work more for poor people in Nepal.


  1. Poverty reduction initiatives through non-bureaucratic means

As a student of public policy, I see public bureaucracy was the main actor for policy formulation, implementation and evaluation of poverty alleviation programs and activities in Nepal until 1990. Looking at the large number of the poor, it is realized that the formulation and implementation of pro-poor programs can not be effective only through bureaucratic means. In the Nepalese case, on the one hand bureaucracy-led poverty alleviation programs were/are less successful and least convincing. On the other hand, democratic environment since 1990 has broadened for the people’s participation in poverty reduction activities (Dhakal, 2002). Therefore, autonomous bodies such as Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and Civil Society have also come up with various pro poor programs in the country. The past experiences have shown that only internal actors are also not sufficient for poverty alleviation in Nepal. Therefore, donor agencies such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, and International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) such as Plan International are also involved in poverty alleviation activities in Nepal. The ideas to get involvement of non bureaucratic means into various poverty reduction activities have emerged from the experiences of little achievements of poverty reduction targets from the bureaucratic means in the past.


Like other parts of the world, the idea of centrally governed Governance has not been working well in Nepal too and the new idea of governance including autonomous and non governmental sectors has been emerged. While constituting Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) in 2003, an autonomous body engaged in poverty alleviation in Nepal,  it was clearly mentioned in its introductory document “even after five decades of planned development, one third of Nepalese are still living in absolute poverty-deprived of basic amenities of life such as foods, cloths, shelter, health, education and drinking water. Therefore, PAF envisions itself as a national instrument to uplift livelihood of poor people” (PAF, 2003: P.1). The idea was/is to make PAF free from the chains and networks of the traditional bureaucracy and to make its full concentration on poverty elimination.  Therefore, PAF has adopted a demand-led community based approach to alleviate poverty and it encourages poor communities to take initiatives to improve their livelihoods. The work culture of the PAF is to working with poor population very closely as possible. However, the impacts of PAF performance on poverty alleviation have not yet been evaluated as per its objectives.


After the restoration of democratic regime in 1990, other non governmental actors have also come up with their own programs and agenda to contribute to the poverty reduction objective of the nation. However, there is a lack of study from the government side on how far non-governmental actors have made their contribution in reducing poverty in Nepal. For example, Social Welfare Council (SWC), which is a responsible agency for monitoring NGOs and INGOs activities in the country, has only made the categorization of 19, 000 NGOs into only 10 different sectors[10]. SWC has not made any lists of NGOs those are directly working in the field of poverty alleviation. The latest idea in the world is that NGOs can work as social capital for the development of any nation and are regarded as important actors in addressing problems related to livelihoods (Cited from Muriisa, 2007).


  1. Findings and conclusion

The poverty in Nepal is an acute problem in terms of the number of poor population, intensity of poverty and its severity. Bureaucracy was / is the fundamental means to deal with poverty alleviation since poverty was officially defined in 1976. However, in spite of a great deal of bureaucracy over the years, the level of poverty has not been reduced as per the targets set by the state. Why does it happen in Nepal? The study observed that behavioral and managerial deficiencies associated with the bureaucratic means are the major contributing factors for not meeting poverty alleviation objectives. Therefore, only paper based programs and strategies could not bring positive impact in service delivery as per the needs of the poor people. The study found that there is some things wrong with public bureaucracy in Nepal that is lack of understanding of poverty and motivation to work for poor. It also found that difficulties in getting accountability in implementing pro-poor policies and programs. The lapses in proper evaluation of the performance of officials who are responsible for their assigned jobs are also other reasons for not getting desired results. In addition to this, increasing level of corruption in the public sector is also found a next reason for not meeting target of poverty reduction. Furthermore, weak co-ordination among various bureaucratic institutions involved in poverty reduction programs and activities is also became another reason for not meeting set objectives.


Looking at the number of lapses associated with bureaucratic means and past experience of poverty reduction, the study concludes that the campaign against poverty reduction can not be succeeded only through bureaucratic means. NGOs, INGOs and Civil Society can also be promoted as the key means to the formation of social capital in the campaign of poverty alleviation in addition to bureaucratic networks. Finally, the paper sees an area for further research on the application of consolidated efforts of government, autonomous bodies, civil society, NGOs, INGOs and international community that would be also another way to the study of poverty alleviation movement in Nepal.



The end



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Table of Content


  1. Introduction 1
  2. Bureaucratic means in dealing with poverty 2
  3. Policies and programs to deal with poverty reduction 4
  4. Existing poverty situation 8
  5. Why Nepalese bureaucracy cannot work more for the poor? 9
  6. Poverty reduction initiatives through non-bureaucratic means 10
  7. Findings and conclusion 11

References                                                                                                                 15

[1] Bishweshar Prasad Koiral is the name of Former Prime Minister and a Prominent Democratic Leader of the country who had given top priority for pro-poor policies.

[2] 1$: 65 Nepalese Rupees, (1st October, 2007) Approximately

[3] Food consumption  of 2,124 calories and an allowance for nonfood items

[4] The degree of poverty with comparison of household incomes

[5] It takes into account the distribution of the varying poverty gaps of individuals households

[6] Cognitions- non evaluative understanding

[7] Norms-internalized ideas about appropriate roles

[8] Values-ideals about what might be

[9] 0-10 Score: 0 score is for top corrupt country and score 10 is for non corrupt

[10]Community and Rural Development, Health Services, Women Services, Child Welfare, Moral Development, Youth Services, AIDS and Abuse Control, Handicapped and Disabled Services, Educational Development, and Environmental Protection