A critique of social policy for children in Nepal:liberal, informal, minimalist-state welfare regime

Suman Khadka
Despite the majority of Nepalese children struggling to meet basic needs there have been negligible attempts to examine the effectiveness of social policies for children in Nepal. Equally challenging is the use of inappropriate frameworks, primarily the UN-Child Rights Convention (UNCRC), the development approach, and a non-hierarchical notion of child well-being (CWB) to conceptualise such policies. This calls for alternate approaches such as welfare state frameworks (WSF) while formulating
more » ... hile formulating such policies. But despite the usefulness of WSF in combating absolute child poverty in the West these frameworks are rarely applied in the 'developing' world. Hence in the first of its kind this study uses the overall theoretical guidance of a WSF and specific theories of welfare state regime (Esping-Anderson, 1990) and welfare regime (Gough and Wood, 2004) to examine social policy and CWB in Nepal. This study uses a critical epistemology for investigation. Whilst the study is exploratory, it has a normative-descriptive purpose. It is a qualitative study but it also incorporates a quantitative component. Data are collected by interviewing 37 children and their 35 caregivers. This is complemented with secondary data and interviews with 37 key informants. Data is analysed using a thematic analysis process using both deductive categories, derived from theoretical frameworks, and inductive categories, drawn from primary data. The study shows that while CWB is conceptualised as a multi-dimensional notion some dimensions were prioritized from a hierarchical and an objective basic needs perspective, which broadly match the five welfare services of WSF. This confirms the appropriateness of WSF as a conceptual framework. The study finds that Nepal's social policy comprises a myriad of ad hoc welfare services that fail to secure children's welfare. Nepal can be classified as a less effective liberal informal minimal-State welfare regime where four welfare institutions (State, market, informal networks and households) interact to produ [...]
doi:10.4225/03/58ae3e1808672 fatcat:kzcceoww2zgt7ntv6tgydqnodu