Nepal Country Report
Local elections were recently held for the first time since 1997, and provincial and federal elections are likely to be held in the coming year. The two largest communist parties announced a merger with the Naya Shakti Nepal: this is likely aimed at increasing representation for minorities in government. However, Nepali politics remains driven by patronage networks and high-level compromises. Protests by ethnic minorities in the Terai region on the Indian border frequently disrupt cargo and force businesses to close for days. Severe lack of infrastructure ‒ particularly in the transportation, power generation, and irrigation sectors ‒ constrains growth, which is compounded by dependence on remittances and exposure to Indian business cycles.
Nepal's strong leftist tradition has generated several trade unions and frequent strike action. A number of umbrella unions – the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GeFONT), the Democratic Confederation of Nepalese Trade Unions (DeCONT), and the Federation of Trade Unions of Nepal (FTUN) – have become focal points for wage negotiations. The Maoist-affiliated All-Nepal Trade Union Federation-Revolutionary is the most likely to organise strike action in the coming year. Bribe demands are most likely in government procurement but also accompany the issuance of licences and permits in most sectors.
After the civil war ended in 2006, some former Maoist insurgents retain the capability to mount small IED attacks. Targets would likely include state assets in the Terai region's urban areas because insurgents' grievances about ethnic representation in the 2015 constitution remain unresolved. In the one-year outlook a major attack remains unlikely and political grievances will be manifested mostly as civil unrest rather than an organised programme of terrorism.
A return to the civil war before the November 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord is highly unlikely. The Nepalese Army confiscated most of the (mainly small‐arms) weapons of the most active faction of Maoist militants. Political protests by the minority Madhesi and Tharu ethnic groups occasionally involve arson, crude IEDs, and fighting with police. However, these groups do not have the capability or public support to launch an insurgency. There is almost no chance of Nepal engaging in a war in the coming year. It maintains good relations with its neighbours, India and China, and has no territorial disputes with China.
Protests over political representation are likely to continue through 2018, particularly around elections in November and December 2017. 'Bandh' protests, involving the forced closure of businesses and building of road blocks for up to week-long disruptions of cargo, are most common, especially in the Terai region. Businesses and drivers who do not comply are often threatened with arson. Major foreign commercial assets, including Chinese-funded hydropower plants, are generally well-protected and unaffected by protesters. Rallies in Kathmandu are less frequent and more peaceful, prompted mostly by fuel shortages lasting more than a couple of days.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all individuals traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one). The vaccine is administered in a local medical facility.
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - chloroquine and proguanil (sometimes marketed as Paludrine ) or proguanil and atovaquone (sometimes marketed as Mepron).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Nepal is a country subject to various natural hazards. In addition to earthquakes, violent storms are frequent and especially dangerous at high elevations. Monsoon season, which lasts from June to September, brings heavy rains that cause destructive floods and landslides every year (e.g. in August-September 2014). Casualties and disruptions to transportation are common throughout the country during this period, and roads and airports may be closed.
A deadly and destructive earthquake - magnitude 8.0 on the Richter scale, the most violent observed in the country for 80 years - struck the Kathmandu valley/capital region in late April 2015. The powerful earthquake and its various aftershocks resulted in at least 7000 deaths and destroyed several thousand homes, buildings, historic sites, and religious temples. Infrastructure (roads, bridges, electricity and water supplies, telecommunications) has also been severely damaged, limiting the Nepalese authorities' and international aid groups' ability to respond to the disaster (e.g., assistance to Internally Displaced Persons [IDPs], emergency services, reconstruction efforts). Two years later, the country is still recovering; traces of the tragedy remain apparent in infrastructure damages, including at tourist sites.
It should be noted that all non-essential travel to the districts of Gorkha, Dolakha, Sindhupalchok, Manaslu, and the Langtang Valley (north), where seismic tremors and aftershocks are observed, is discouraged.
Ground transportation, as well as air travel, can prove dangerous. Roads are in poor condition and landslides are common. Electricity infrastructure is also poor, and outages are common. These transportation issues are further exacerbated by a general lack of resources and investment in infrastructure in Nepal.
The climate is tropical in the south, temperate in the valleys, and cold in the mountains.
The rainy season (monsoon) lasts from June until September, and rainfall is abundant and often torrential. During this time temperatures are elevated and mountain summits are foggy. The interior valleys and the northwest receive the least amount of rain during the monsoon season. From October until March, days are sunny and dry with violent winds on summits. In the Himalayas winters are cold and summers relatively cool.
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