Eight eastern Tarai districts, which were affected by the Tarai Movement of 2007, fall in Province number 2, whereas all the districts in Province number 6, which are demanding unified-far west, are far below the national poverty level.
According to Nepal Living Standard Survey (NLSS) 2010-11, some 25.2 per cent of the total population of the country is below poverty line. Forty-two districts – out of the 75 districts – of the country fall under the poverty line, according to the survey.
Out of eight districts in Province number 2, six fall below the poverty line, whereas all the 19 districts in Province number 6 fall below poverty line.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), a person having average income below Rs 19,261 is defined as poor. A person earning under Rs 53 per day comes under national poverty line, as per the Nepal Living Standard Survey 2010-11 conducted by the CBS.
Province number 1 is the richest compared to other provinces. Only 17.96 per cent of the population of Province number 1 is below poverty line.
Similarly, 20.33 per cent of population in Province number 3 falls under the poverty line, whereas some 19.21 per cent of the population falls under poverty line in Province number 4 and 25.64 per cent of the population of Province number 5 are below the poverty line.
But Province number 2 has 27.95 per cent of population under poverty line and Province number 6 has 42.23 of the population – the highest among six provinces – under the poverty line.
Economist Keshav Acharya blames short-sightedness of political leaders for unscientific demarcation of federal provinces. "Political leaders have federated the country not on the basis of their economic strength and viability but for their own benefits,” he said, adding that the leaders just want to have their political career secured, not the country’s future.
Likewise, Nepal Small Area Estimates of Poverty-2011 report also indicates that districts in Province number 2 have not fared well economically in recent past. Of the total 25 prosperous districts a decade ago, some 11 – Parsa, Dhanusha, Saptari, Siraha, Bara, Rautahat, Manang, Myagdi and Jumla – have fallen down to the poorest category. Parsa, Dhanusha, Saptari, Siraha, Bara, Rautahat are among the eight districts of Province number 2. The Tarai-Madhesh Movement of 2007 and the political apathy of Tarai-Madhesh leaders have damaged economy of these districts as they have fallen from prosperous districts' category to the poorest in a decade, especially after Tarai-Madhesh Movement in 2007.
Kathmandu was the most prosperous district according to Nepal Small Estimates of Poverty-2001. But Nepal Small Estimates of Poverty-2011 report states that Kaski is the most prosperous district of the country, whereas Bajura is the poorest.
The Nepal Small Estimates of Poverty-2011 study conducted by CBS with technical assistance of World Bank has not only mapped poverty in small areas across the country but also mapped the gap between rich and poor and severity of poverty in all 75 districts.
Despite having huge natural resources and immense tourism potential, all the 19 districts of Province number 6 are under the poverty line. According to Acharya, all the castes in Province number 6 are poor compared to other districts, but in Province number 2 poverty concentration is higher in lower castes. "The concentration of poverty is higher in lower castes in Tarai-Madhesh," he said, explaining that the Hills lower caste are better off compared to Tarai-Madhesh lower caste populace also due to political indifference.
Not only poverty, rich-poor gap and severity of poverty is also higher in both Provinces 2 and 6.
According to Nepal Small Area Estimates of Poverty- 2011 report, Bajura is the poorest district – in the country – with 64.1 per cent people under poverty line, followed by Kalikot (58 per cent), Bajhang (57 per cent), Humla (56 per cent) and Darchula (53 per cent). All the poorest five districts fall in Province number 6.
Likewise, Saptari, which is in Province number 2, is the poorest district in Tarai-Madhesh. Some 39.5 per cent of Saptari populace earns less than Rs 53 in a day making the lives of Tarai-Madhesh people harder.