Education and maternal health situation in Nepal
One of the most crucial parts of individual and societal development is education. It has a significant impact on the economic development of the country. Over the last few years, Nepal has progressed significantly in the field of education. According to UNICEF "The net enrollment rate in primary schools has grown to 97 percent.”
Despite the fact that the education system is rapidly evolving, the country continues to face several challenges due to poverty, gender inequality, social norms and geographical isolation. The most deprived group from education are the women from poor, underprivileged, ethnic, and low-caste groups, who are extremely marginalized and disempowered, and frequently barred from education due to their gender. When women are deprived of education, it affects not only their skills and knowledge, but also their maternal health. Education and health go hand in hand, complementing, enhancing, and supporting one another; together, they form the basis for a better world. Women who are educated are more likely than those without an education to take better care of their children and seek medical care, such as immunization.
According to Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) “The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Nepal decreased from 539 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births to 239 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births between 1996 and 2016.” To end maternal deaths , efforts are made to increase the quality of maternal health care.
Nepal has committed to doing its part to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.1 of reducing the global Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) to less than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030. To achieve this ambitious target, Nepal will need to reduce its MMR by at least 7.5% annually addressing severe inequities in maternal health access, utilization and quality.
Importance of education and health care
Globally, education and health are regarded as essential infrastructure for the development of the nations' economy. So, countries should prioritize educating females and improving their skills, knowledge, and capacities, as well as their maternal health.
As Nepal is considered to be a developing country, the excessive poverty and narrow mindset of the people is one of the biggest reasons why people do not encourage girls to pursue education. We must realize that investing in girls' education is one of the most transformative development initiatives and by educating girls, we are educating the entire country, since she teaches others around her. Literate girls have a significant impact on communities, countries, and the entire world. Education for girls leads to a positive economy and a more promising future, as well as increases the girl's confidence.
Gender equality in education and maternal health must be prioritized by countries all over the world. Lack of education and autonomy restricts women's ability to make decisions about their health care, particularly those from underprivileged and marginalized groups, and prevents them from obtaining the high-quality treatment necessary for healthy pregnancies and deliveries.
Rahat- Blockchain for social good
With a mission to support underprivileged and marginalized women’s education and good maternal health, Team Rahat collaborated with the local communities to distribute aid. Rahat carried out two different pilots- one to support the maternal health of women in the rural area of Nepal, Humla, and the other one to support the girl students of one of the public schools of Banepa.
Rahat- Supporting Motherhood
With an objective to provide maternity and child support to 15 women and their families, with nutritional food packages, the Rahat team collaborated with the Rural Community Health Care (RCHC) of Humla to provide maternity and child support by distributing nutritional food items as a relief package to pregnant women through the Rahat platform.
Team Rahat worked with the social mobilizer partner in sorting out marginalized maternity populations in rural areas of Nepal like Humla where the maternity population is unable to receive nutritious food items even after their child delivery. This pilot is quite different from our last pilots since this pilot is targeted to provide relief to the on-spot (real-time) maternity population who visit the hospital for their health check-up during the time of child delivery only. The pilot was held on the 31st of August 2021. Through the pilot, team Rahat was able to provide aid worth Rs. 3,750 to each maternity beneficiary. With the limited infrastructure and services in the rural area like Humla, “Rahat”provided a very simple, efficient, and transparent process to support maternity with nutritional food packages.
The assessment of the needy ones was done by the local community of Humla, Rural Community Health Care (RCHC) who collaborated as the social mobilizer partner through the Rahat dashboard, vendor app, social mobilizer app, and QR card system. A single local female vendor was involved and facilitated the entire aid distribution process through the instructions provided by the social mobilizer - RCHC.
Rahat: Supporting Education
Rahat team collaborated with Kabhre Banepa Leo CLub (KBLC) of Banepa, Kabhre to distribute educational supplies as a relief package to 15 underprivileged ninth-graders girls of a public school at Banepa and Nala, through the Rahat platform using the Rahat vendor app. The pilot was held on September 16, 2021. Through the pilot, team Rahat was able to provide aid worth Rs. 1,500 per student/beneficiary who were struggling to meet their school supply needs. “Rahat”, provided a very simple, efficient, and transparent process to support educational supplies for female students with the use of OTP codes and QR codes. The project was conducted in three phases, according to the availability of the beneficiary. In this pilot project, the beneficiary’s details were collected prior to the aid distribution with the help of a social mobilizer.
Rahat: Empowering Women, Children and Community
Rahat is a women-led project started with a mission to support vulnerable communities by enabling a transparent and trackable aid distribution platform built on blockchain technology. Rahat has consistently been putting its efforts to support and empower women and children in every way possible, doing their bit to make a difference. Rahat has been providing training to the social mobilizers and vendors before the pilot to ensure that they can carry out the aid distribution process efficiently. Not just the beneficiaries, even the social mobilizers and the vendors for these pilots are mostly women.
Ms. Kesang Dolma Lama, one of the social mobilizers for the pilot registered herself on Rahat mobilizer and facilitated the entire aid distribution process and was happy and was in awe to learn about technological advancements such as blockchain.
The other mobilizer shared her feedback on using the digital system for the first time to distribute aid in rural areas of Nepal like Humla. She said, “Even though I did not have any knowledge about these new technological advancements, I was comfortable using the app. I found the entire process very interesting and would like to work with the Rahat team in the future as well.”
Rahat envisions a world where aid distribution is inclusive, accountable, and accessible to everyone. Rahat has impacted over 260 beneficiaries by providing aid distribution. As of now, Rahat has successfully completed 9 pilot projects in 9 different districts. For 2 out of 9 projects, the pilot was supported by 2 different aid agencies. Rahat has collaborated with 15 vendors and 10 social mobilizers and has equipped them with training on how to use the Rahat application.
To learn more about Rahat, click here!