• Dipendra Lamsal
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The Government of Nepal announced its first nation wise full lockdown on 24 March 2020 (till 21 July) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic affected every sector but more specifically, economic sector with closure of all income-generating activities.

The full and later imposed partial lockdown restricted movement, allowing only the most essential food and medical services to operate. First few months had increasing infection rates, and surprisingly lesser PPE kit even for the frontline health workers.

Millions of Nepali migrant workers from Middle-East returned home after companies were shut down for months. From India, some walked for days to reach their villages in Nepal. In both cases, millions of Nepali migrants stayed in the country affecting Nepal’s economy with no remittance for at least a year.

Hand washing station installed in Surkhet.

Considering the situation and Government health code, Caritas Nepal (CN) announced work from home modality, and strict COVID-19 safety measures were taken during emergency response activities.

During the pandemic extremities, CN successfully provided livelihood enhancement, medical facilities and awareness-raising programs in 23 districts in total. Food, WASH kits, and safety materials were distributed in quarantined centers, hospitals, police stations, cooperatives and public places. Partners produced and distributed masks on the grass-root level. Flex and leaflet printing took place for awareness-raising.

Heath materials hand over to Pyuthan Municipality by FIRDO (Partner NGO)

From July onwards, CN changed its working modality of work from home to alternate-working days sticking to social distancing inside office premises. This was practiced in all regional offices and during fieldwork.

Livelihood Support Project (LSP) was implemented in partnership with Swiss Development & Cooperation for Livelihoods Support Project (SDC) and CRS (technical partner) to support 20,000 smallholder farmers of 5 districts from Province 1. The 3-month project provided agricultural input support to the vulnerable farmers, who at that time were deprived of even the basic agro-input items needed for plantation such as seeds and fertilizers.  

Elderly female participant carrying Agro tool support from Livelihood Support Project in Arjundhara, Jhapa

In Palpa, hand washing platforms were installed in 24 locations such as quarantined centers, hospitals, schools and public places of Tansen.

Handwashing stations were handed over to the respective communities to ensure sustainability through community ownership.  

Objective of Caritas Nepal to address COVID-19 Pandemic are as follows:

  • Provide COVID-19 Pandemic related protection gear and materials to health posts and community health workers
  • Create awareness on prevention of COVID-19 and access to health services in rural areas using awareness materials, FM, local project teams, local stakeholders etc.
  • Provide emergency food materials and agriculture inputs to COVID-19 affected populations.

On 20th January, Nepal Government received million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from India. Vaccine priority will be given to the frontline health workers. CN role for now will be to provide full support to the government in this regards.

Caritas Asia like any other humanitarian organizations will advocate for adequate PPE and vaccines supply specifically to the countries and territories with most vulnerable pandemic cases.

During all the project implementation, CN made close coordination with local government and had regular supervision from local stakeholders.

CN is heartfelt towards CIMOS and other international partners who despite the global challenges provided continued support to regular development projects and more specifically, COVID-19 relief and response projects.

Till date, 31,000 households (160,000 people) were supported with COVID 19 and pandemic relief and recovery support.

The summary of achievement is as follows:

  • 150 units of handwashing stations established in rural municipalities and municipalities.
  • 10,000 units COVID 19 safety kits (masks, sanitizer, thermal gun, etc.) provided to individuals, health workers, health posts, quarantine centers and humanitarian workers.
  • 7252 households provided food relief materials.
  • 24540 smallholder farming households provided agriculture inputs.
  • 100,000 people made aware of COVID 19 safety precautions.
Differently-abled participant receiving food support in Dhanusha

Supporting agencies: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Caritas Australia, Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Germany, Caritas Poland, Caritas Korea, Caritas Spain, Missio, and World Renew

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