ADB Supports Nepal's Drive to Bring Unregistered Citizens in from the Cold

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - A Government drive to increase the number of poor Nepalese with legal identity documents, which are required to gain access to essential benefits and services, is to receive support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

A $2 million grant from the ADB-administered Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) will fund awareness raising programs and intensive registration campaigns.

"The poor and vulnerable in Nepal have very little access to goods, resources, and opportunities such as social welfare benefits or free school textbooks, and one of the reasons for this is they don't have legal identity documents, such as birth, citizenship, migration, marriage, and death certificates," said Jogendra Ghimire, counsel at ADB's Office of the General Counsel.

It is estimated that at least 75% of Nepal's population do not have a birth certificate, and that between 3 million and 5 million people eligible citizens have not acquired citizenship.

An outdated and complex legislative framework, burdensome procedures, low awareness among Government officials and the general public, high registration costs, discrimination, and low capacity have all contributed to the lack of legal documentation among the poor.

The ADB project will be implemented over four years in the districts of Kathmandu, Jhapa, Ilam, Bhaktapur, Latitpur, Palpa, Rupandehi, Mustang, Kailali, and Dang. It will aim to provide birth certificates and other identity documents to at least 80% of residents in the target areas, and ensure individual details are logged in a computerized civil registration system able to be accessed by relevant Government departments. Registration training for civil servants and a public awareness campaign will also be conducted.

The JFPR was established by the Japanese Government and ADB in May 2000 to provide direct relief to the poorest and most vulnerable segments of society while building up their capacities for self-help and income generation.