Crafting Child Friendly Nepal: prospects and challenges

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Nepal is home to 29 million people, with children younger than 15 years old making up more than 40 percent of the population. These children are the present, future hope of the country as it is going through a series of transition and post conflict restructuring. With all its development challenges Nepal is making progress. For example the neonatal mortality decreased to 34 per 1000 births. At the same time we are also witnessing existence of child labor, poverty, sexual harassment and trafficking of children for servitude and prostitution, lack of facilities for children with disabilities despite the legislation and policy measures. 

Nepal has been a State Party to Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) since 1990 and making a considerable progress in protecting the rights of children along with many nongovernmental, civil society and donor support.  Children Rights organisations are also lobbying the past and current governments to ratify the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on  communications procedures, adopted on 19 December 2011 by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 66/138. This third optional protocol recognises the rights of a child- an integral part of the human rights framework. Nepal already ratified the other two optional protocols on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography in 2006 and on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2007.

Formation of more than 1000 Children's clubs is other milestone in the history of Children rights in Nepal. The clubs emerged as an important democratic institution managed by the children (with adult facilitation) at the school, village or ward level in Nepal over the past decade. They appear to be both an expression of, and a promise, for the advancement of democracy and children's rights. To ensure children rights as part of the government policy and governance mechanisms, UNICEF Nepal has been playing a key role with its Child led Governance. Working with the Ministry of Local Development, Government of Nepal, Unicef Nepal is   promoting 'Child Friendly Local Governance' (CFLG) which ensures the participation of children right from the planning phase, and allocation of some financial resources dedicated to children programs to be decided upon by the young people.

Despite of these international and national efforts in children rights, Nepal currently is at a critical juncture, struggling to overcome the legacy of a decade-long civil war. However, the current child friendly initiatives are very important in understanding children and their needs and to craft Nepal as a child friendly nation. Nepal School of Social Work ( NSSW)  founded in 2005 have committed to conduct research and training in children issues and trains young people to become professional social workers who then motivated to work with children and child rights issues.

Recently, NSSW carried out a brief research along with Biratnagar sub metropolitan city (BSMC) on child friendly city governance indicators.  Being second largest city after the Kathmandu, Biratnagar has attracted a large population from the surrounding areas. As a result of growing urbanization child labor and exploitation is evident. To curb these issues and protect children rights, the BSMC declares itself to become the first Child Friendly City by 2015. To achieve this mission it has designed and implemented many children centered projects. In order to assess the success and areas to further improve, the NSSW study ( Nikku and Pokhrel published in  2013)  have used the 9 principal building blocks  designed by the International Secretariat of  Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI)  for local administrations aiming to become ‘child friendly’. These indicators are:  1. Child participation at all stages of planning and implementation, 2. Child-friendly legislation, 3. A child rights strategy, 4. A coordinating mechanism or agency for children, 5. Assessment of policy and programme impact on children, 6. A budget and resources for children, 7. A regular report on the state of children in the city, 8. Awareness-raising and capacity building on child rights, and 9. Independent advocacy for children. We have applied these 9 criteria to assess the status of Biratnagar and the progress it made in terms of achieving a status of CFC.

Based on the research results, we found that BSMC has made a good progress in terms of children participation and legal frame works. Biratnagar city has developed indicators for making child friendly city and has been working as per the indicators developed. It has carried out various activities such as birth registration campaign, vaccination campaign, school level child club formation program, budget allocation for making child friendly school. Child friendly legal framework and child impact assessment and evaluation seems to be lacking according to the results of the study. Rest of the indicators seems to be satisfactory as per the evidence. The study suggests few recommendations on how can Biratnagar city become a CFC in the real sense. Real ‘child-friendliness’ can only be achieved through a long-term commitment of child friendly policies and the commitment levels of all concerned duty bearers and political will  to the implementation of child rights. Given this country’s situation building child friendly cities can be a crucial strategy for the Government of Nepal and other stakeholders in rebuilding efforts of Nepal.



Dr. Bala Raju Nikku is the founding Director of Nepal School of Social Work and currently Sr.visiting Lecturer at the school of social sciences, University Sains Malaysia. Email:

Mr. Punam Kumar Dahal is Section Chief of Community Development, Biratnagar Sub-Metropolitan City. Email:

Position: Sr.lecturer, University Sains Malaysia & founding Director of Nepal school of Social Work

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