Income Levels and Malnutrition in Humla
The average estimated annual per capita income in Humla is EUR 100 – EUR 134 and malnutrition is rampant.
Malnutrition – Agriculture and income development indicators in Humla
- Calorific value of food production per capita per day – 1018 calories 
- Percentage of children suffering malnutrition (2004) – 39.9% 
- Percentage of children under five suffering malnutrition – 65% 
- Percentage of land under cultivation – 1% 
- Percentage of agricultural land under irrigation – 5.5% 
- Percentage of households without a toilet – 75% 
Only an estimated 1% of the land in Humla is arable, and irrigation projects are largely non-existent. The climate is harsh, with long and snowy winters, while the soil fertility is low. Tiny terraced fields are cut into the sheer mountainsides. As a result, Humla suffers from food shortages all year round, with almost half of the households in the district only able to produce enough food to sustain themselves for up to half the year. The shortfall is eased by assistance from the UN World Food Programme in some areas or cash earned by the men migrating in search of unskilled work – but the end result for many families is chronic malnutrition.
Average per capita income levels in Humla are estimated at EUR 100 – EUR 134 per annum, with few families being able to afford basic necessities such as food, clothing, shoes, copy books, soap or medicine. There are no local private sector employment opportunities in Humla, and there is no industry or economic development of any kind. While rich in natural beauty, due to civil war and the difficulty in accessing Humla, the tourist industry is largely undeveloped, with only around 500 tourists per year coming to Humla to trek to Tibet and Mount Kailash/Lake Manasarovar.
Humla is highly dependent on foreign earning remittances, and many men travel to China (Tibet) during the summer and India during the winter, in search of low-paid physical labouring work. It is estimated that the average woman in Humla works 16 hours per day, and much of this work involves back-breaking labour – carrying animal fodder, water and wood long distances.
1 District Profile and Analysis, District Development Committee 2007
2 District Development Plan 2008, District Information and Documentation Centre, District Development Committee, Humla