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May 28th, 2020
Last April, it was exactly five years ago that the terrible earthquake hit Nepal hard.
The earthquakes in 2015 killed more than 9,000 people, and more than 800,000 Nepalese have lost their homes. Five years later, you can still see the impact of this. Nepal borders India and China (Tibet) and is one of the least developed countries in the world. Education, health and sanitation are far from optimal. Nepal was therefore considered by the WHO to be one of the countries at highest risk for the COVID-19 pandemic, and also one of the least prepared countries for this pandemic.
With only two cases of COVID-19 in the country, the government decided to take action, and on March 24, Nepal went into complete lockdown. The number of COVID-19 cases has increased as numerous Nepalese who worked in India tried to travel back to Nepal, many of whom attempted on foot and are still trying to cross the border.
Nepal is highly dependent on tourism, trade and other international supply chains. Many workers in Nepal receive no income since the lockdown. Since the start of this lockdown poverty in Nepal has increased, and this is an increasing problem with, among other things, death from hunger. The virus is now slowly spreading through the different districts of the country. Most cases occur in the south of Nepal, near the border with India.
Currently, 886 COVID-19 infections have been identified, of which four have died, and 183 people have since recovered. I wonder how many cases there truly are, and how many have not been identified due to lack of testing. COVID-19 is a global problem, but because of the previously existing challenges in Nepal, it affects the Nepalese people even harder.
I have frequent contact with my connections and organizations in Nepal to hear how everything is going there and how the women are doing. The lockdown has a lot of influence on overall life there, and the workshops that had to close because of the lockdown. Next week it will be announced whether this lockdown will be extended even further, of which the expectation is it will be.
Some organizations I work with can continue to pay the salary or a part of the wage to the women who work there. A few other organizations do not have that option, as do most employers across Nepal. Many of the women who usually work in Kathmandu or Pokhara have left the city and travelled to their home villages in more remote areas of Nepal. Due to the inaccessibility of these remote villages, it is therefore difficult to keep in touch with some of them.
Written by Christel Hendriks