Nepal: “Starvation for many Nepali is a more specific risk than corona”
Freiburg / Kathmandu. Five years after the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015, hundreds of thousands of people in Nepal are facing existential non-existence and are therefore urgently in need of help. Like the earthquake, in which 9,000 people lost their lives and millions lost their livelihood, the corona epidemic hits the poorest of the poor particularly hard. According to the head of Caritas in Germany, Oliver Müller, starvation is currently a much more concrete danger for hundreds of thousands of day laborers than a Covid19 disease. At the same time, there are fears that people weakened by hunger will fall victim to the virus more quickly.
Nepal in full lockdown amid coronavirus pandemic, but finding few Covid-19 cases due to lack of test
Seven million people, around a quarter of the population, live below the poverty line in Nepal and therefore every day from hand to mouth. Many of them have been driven into debt by the 2015 earthquake. The strict lockdown that was imposed in Nepal in March and was necessary for society as a whole, not least because of the fragile health system, is becoming an existential threat for millions of people every day. Tens of thousands of families are currently lacking to survive, in particular the wages of the Nepalese migrant workers who are currently stuck in lockdown abroad (including in India and Qatar). These remittances usually make up a quarter of the state’s gross national product.
“The earthquake and Covid19 show that the best protection against natural disasters as well as epidemics is the reduction of poverty,” said Müller. “The long-term overcoming of hunger and poverty must therefore continue to be our goal as Caritas in Nepal.” With an annual per capita income of around $ 700, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. Only every third Nepalese has access to adequate sanitation. To alleviate the consequences of the lockdown, Caritas Nepal is currently organizing food distribution to particularly affected, marginalized groups south of Kathmandu.
Source: German Caritas Association