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The challenges

Lack of legal protection

Children who live and work on the streets in Nepal face criminalisation simply for being on the streets. According to the Consortium for Street Children, children under 18 can be arrested and detained for offences including begging and truancy . Since 2015, the Central Child Welfare Board, now known as the Child Rights Board, along with the government, called for the police to not allow any child to stay on the street. As a result, there are currently no laws or policies that directly prohibit police roundups of street children in Kathmandu.

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Children and young people who do not have any form of legal identity documents are at further risk of being denied protection and treated as adults in the criminal justice system if they cannot prove how old they are.

Unregistered children in Nepal face similar issues to those in Latin America, but perhaps the most pressing challenge in this context is that without a birth certificate, children cannot obtain official citizenship. This denies them any protection that would otherwise be offered and prevents their access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, the right to vote, a passport, and safe and legal employment in the future.

Child labour

Child labour is a common phenomenon in Nepal and is deeply rooted in the country’s history. Children are subjected to some of the worst forms of child labour, including commercial sexual exploitation and forced begging. Children also perform dangerous work scavenging on rubbish dumps for scrap metal and producing bricks.

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In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic increased pressure on children in Nepal to join the workforce, particularly during school shutdowns and as vulnerable families, already living a hand-to-mouth existence, struggled to survive. Many unregistered street children were unable to receive government-distributed food rations during lockdowns because they could not prove their legal identity. This pushed more children to search for whatever work they could find.

During the pandemic, Toybox’s local partner in Nepal SathSath shared concerns about children and young people working without adequate protection in crematorium sites helping to burn the bodies of victims of Covid-19.

Difficulties accessing education

In Nepal, learning levels are incredibly low, with one in three children unable to read and write by age seven. The devastating earthquake in 2015 damaged the country’s education system irreparably, destroying over 50,000 classrooms and leaving 3.5 million people homeless. This disruption to learning was further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic just five years later, which saw over eight million children out of school during nationwide lockdowns.

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According to UNICEF, 1 in 4 primary-aged children and over 50% of secondary-aged children in Nepal do not attend school. As well as working to support themselves or their families, children and young people are missing out on education for many reasons; from not having the required legal identity documents to enrol to social exclusion because of gender, caste, disability, and more.

Lack of education and illiteracy can affect children’s futures in many ways. Children who are not educated are more likely to marry or have children early. They are less likely to find safe and secure employment and are at higher risk of exploitation and abuse.

Fundamentally, not having access to education disempowers children by denying them the opportunities and protection they deserve. This, for many, results in a cycle of poverty that limits their future opportunities beyond life on the streets.

Our work in Nepal

Our work in Nepal


  • Street children often lack proof of identity which helps them access state's help or support. Our partner works to support unregistered children in Kathmandu and the surrounding areas through the process of getting their birth certificates, which can often take many months depending on the complexity of each case.
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  • In addition to the practical task of registering children, the team also play a vital role in education and awareness raising within the wider community to highlight the benefits of timely birth registration through rallies and radio campaigns They also engage with children and young people on the streets to encourage them to become peer educators who can spread the message of the importance of birth registration.

  • Another vital part of our birth registration work is Nepal is working alongside other local organisations and influencers to ensure that hospitals, governors and midwives are working together to ensure every child can access their right to identity and that the process is fair and equitable, particularly for street children.


  • Non-formal education classes take place daily at Learning Centres where children are given the opportunity to learn in a safe and friendly space. These classes cover topics such as abuse prevention and Child Rights as well as teach children basic skills including reading and writing. During these classes, children are provided with a drink and snack, facilities to wash themselves and their clothes, and a place to store their belongings.
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  • Recreational activities including sports and games and arts and crafts provide children with a chance to learn new skills and develop friendships, away from the streets. For children who have given up their childhoods to work or take on caring responsibilities, a place to play and an opportunity to simply enjoy being children is so important.

  • To help children who are out of school to develop basic skills and improve their literacy, our partner is collaborating with Mobile School, Belgium, on a project which uses a ‘Street Smart Wheels Tool’ (a set of interactive panels on wheels) to engage children in non-formal education and motivate them in their learning so that they can be enrolled into school in the future. This ‘mobile school’ is taken around different communities across Kathmandu, reaching children who otherwise would not have access to any kind of support.

Our partner also delivers emergency assistance to children and young people living and working on the streets including:

  • Warm clothing and blankets for protection from harsh winter weather.

  • Medical treatment and first aid ranging from treatment for minor injuries and illnesses to referrals for vaccinations and preventative healthcare.

  • Counselling particularly to support children and young people to deal with any of the psychological effects of long-term health issues.

  • Health and hygiene classes to help children to look after themselves and stay safe.

  • Medical camps offer health and dental check-ups with support from local healthcare centres in key areas where children live and work.

  • Safe and hygienic period products are distributed to girls and young women as currently 83% of girls in Nepal still rely on cloths rather than sanitary pads during their periods.

Emergency response

  • During the Covid-19 pandemic vulnerable families were left without income, our partners helped to provide temporary assistance with rent repayments to those facing eviction This support was crucial as it not only ensured that families had a safe place to stay, it helped to lower the risk of children ending up in dangerous work environments in a bid to help ensure their family was not left homeless.
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  • During lockdowns, our partners also worked closely with the local government in Kathmandu to reach children and young people on the streets with emergency food and relief packages including hygiene kits, masks and handwash.


  • Support for school enrolment is offered to children who have taken part in non-formal classes and who are ready to enrol into formal education. These children are supported through the enrolment process, as well as given support to pay admission fees and purchase uniforms, stationery and equipment.

  • Awareness-raising and training for teachers and principals takes place to ensure that street children are not discriminated against at school and can learn in a safe and inclusive environment.

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  • Parenting training and Child Rights workshops help to educate parents, caregivers and community members on caregiving roles, responsibilities, and positive discipline.

  • Vocational training gives young people for whom formal education is either not suitable or available the opportunity to develop technical skills which they can take forward to use in their lives to help them earn a safe and sustainable living, support themselves and their families, or build their own small business.


Our work in Nepal has changed lives


Birth Registration • Nepal • 2022

Asha grew up feeling like a refugee in her own country, as an unregistered child in Nepal. Unable to go to school, she can’t remember a time when she didn’t work during her childhood. Recently however, doors have opened to her since she received her birth certificate. Now she dreams of going to school and setting up a tailoring shop.

Read Asha's story


Education • Nepal • 2022

Ikroop dropped out of school to work with her mum when her parents separated. Between that and looking after her young nephew, she had little time for learning. Thankfully, it was only seven months until she met SathSath and started participating in their activities, investing in her education, and future, once more.

Read Ikroop's story


Birth Registration • Nepal • 2022

In Nepal, not having a birth certificate means little access to the most basic human rights - a reality that 12-year-old Khem knows all too well. Living on the streets, he sought solace in sniffing glue with his friends, until he started attending a project which helped him gain a basic education and finally attain his legal identity.

Read Khem's story


Birth Registration • Nepal • 2022

Dhonu has lived on Kathmandu’s streets for 13 years, used to abuse and scavenging to survive. One day, he started taking drugs to deal with the stresses of the streets. Then he met SathSath, who supported him to get his official identity. Now he’s a Nepali citizen and excited for the possibilities ahead of him away from the streets.

Read Dhonu's story


Vocational Training • Nepal • 2022

For 15 years, Kathmandu’s streets were home for Anesh. Born on the street, he was invisible and begged to earn money. One day, he met SathSath who have supported him over the years with medical help, food, driving training and getting his birth certificate. Now he’s excited to start his own taxi company and work towards his dreams.

Read Anesh's story