Life in Humla
Chronic malnutrition is rife in Humla, and the district is severely lacking in basic infrastructure and social services.
There is no electricity or roads or communication networks in most parts of this remote district in Nepal. It is a 10 day walk to the nearest road, and a 15 day walk to a functioning hospital. Life expectancy is just 53 years, with many children dying from lack of healthcare, unsafe water, and chronic malnutrition.
Humla is the highest district in Nepal, with most villages lying at about 3,000m-5,000m above sea level. The climate is harsh, with snow for up to four months of the year. Only 1% of the land is arable, due to the rocky terrain. There is practically no irrigation, the soil is poor, and the land is very dry and arid. The growing season is short, all of which contributes to low agricultural yields.
Severe Food Shortages
As a result of population growth (due to lack of access to family planning services), climate change, and poor soil fertility, the district suffers from huge food shortages. On average, most households only produce sufficient food for 3-5 months of the year.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) operates in some parts of the district to prevent famine. Each week, rice and other staples are flown in by helicopter and distributed as part of work-for-food schemes.
Lack of Basic Services
On top of chronic malnutrition, the healthcare service and education system are very poor, drinking water is generally unsafe and the environment is under threat. 60% of children in Humla never start school, while less than 3% of young people graduate with the equivalent of the Junior Certificate/GCSEs. In addition, the poorest groups in society, such as women and low caste households, face additional hardships. Only 25% of households in Humla have a toilet, and just 64.5% of households have access to tap water.
1 District Development Plan 2008, District Information and Documentation Centre, District Development Committee, Humla,
2 District Profile and Analysis, District Development Committee 2007