Political Conflict, Natural Disaster and Displacement of Children and Evolution of Institutional Care of Children in Nepal
Nepal’s internal political conflict (1996-2006) instigated by the Maoist insurgency displaced tens of thousands of children. Its traditional culture of extended family caring for orphan and vulnerable children was inadequately prepared to care for so many children. To address the plight of the orphans and children from vulnerable families, many organizations funded by the internal and external sources have been established in the country. This situation of inadequate care for the children in need of care and protection in Nepal was further aggravated with the earthquakes in 2015. This paper examines the history and evolution of institutional care of children in Nepal, placing a focus on the displacement of children due to political conflict (The Maoist Armed Struggle) and natural disaster (2015 earthquake).
The paper is based on the review of historical government records, newspaper articles, and reports prepared by the organizations working in the area of child protection, building an understanding of the history and evolution of institutional care in Nepal—private and public in connection with the phenomenon of displacement of children due to political conflict and natural disaster.
Preliminary findings indicate that Nepal has three broad types of institutional care for children: Government-run child welfare homes, juvenile correction homes, and the Child Care Homes (CCHs) run by private non-governmental organizations primarily to provide safe residential care for orphans. Of the three types of institutions, the CCHs has grown exponentially over the past two and half decades. In 2015, a total of 577 CCHs were operating in 45 districts of Nepal (State of Child Care Homes in Nepal, 2015). Nearly 76% of the CCHs are in Kathmandu valley (CCWB, 2015). Although, these homes are aimed at serving orphans, a study found that 85% of the children living is these homes had at least one living parent (Pattison, 2014). Furthermore, between 2008 and 2014 the government removed 320 children from the CCHs who had been abused or neglected (CCWB, 2015). In addition to the analysis of institutional care in Nepal, the paper discusses alternative strategies to care for the needs of vulnerable children in Nepal as we move forward.
Keywords: institutional care of children, political conflict, natural disaster, displacement, Nepal