Bharatpur is a city in south-central Nepal. With a population of around 370,000, it is the fifth largest city in Nepal and the commercial centre of Chitwan district. Thanks to its location on a large river, the area is fertile, so most people in the region are involved in agriculture.
As Bharatpur is growing rapidly, the city's infrastructure is coming under increasing pressure. Consequently, people live in slums where children in particular suffer from the harsh living conditions. In addition, many girls are still forced into child marriages.
Since 2003, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Bharatpur.
Nepal has the 16th highest rate of child marriages in the world. This means that 40% of women in Nepal were married before the age of 18.
Child marriage is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound. There is also an increased risk of child pregnancy and domestic violence.
Specifically in Bagmati province, where Bharatpur is located, 19% of girls were married as children. The national target to end child marriage by 2030 requires a strong push from the government.
Bharatpur is one of the fastest growing cities in Nepal, but the infrastructure cannot keep up with its development. There is a lack of affordable housing, proper sanitation and clean drinking water.
Often, people who move to Bharatpur in search of a better life and job opportunities end up living in slums on the outskirts of the city. Overall, 49% of people in Nepal live in slums.
Children are particularly affected by poverty in the slums. Due to the lack of access to clean drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene, they are at high risk of contracting preventable diseases.