Newsletter | March - April 2020

Paper publication date: 
Friday, May 1, 2020

As another rainy pre-monsoon day starts, as we just remembered the day of the earthquake and the five years that have since past, as we are stuck in our homes trying to beat this devastating virus, I think about the lives of those who survive, rebound, thrive and get by, there are so many factors to the economic, social and emotional wellbeing of a community and this crisis lays bare the inequities of societies around the world. This is why Oxfam, is actively calling on world leaders and international institutions to not let its vulnerable citizens down and to not abandon commitments to reduce poverty around the world.

Nepal, through a very strict lockdown, may be on course to reduce the community spread of the virus; from the onset, our partners and us have been able to support Kanchanpur, Sarlahi and Rautahat districts to address public health needs with collaboration across the NGO community and with local and national government. Our fundraising for hygiene and sanitation has been very successful with close to 1.4 million GBP almost secured, and more to come. But there is another more complex situation evolving; poor migrant workers and daily wage laborers have lost all sources of income, small business owners cannot work, those whose lives depend on essential services (nutrition, rehabilitation, Gender Based Violence support, chronic illness, etc.) are not able to access them, children in public schools are deprived of education, community infrastructure cannot be maintained, and the list goes on.

The medium and long term consequences are difficult to determine – we do not know how long the lockdown will last here and in other countries that are linked to Nepal’s economy. In light of this, we are advocating actively for cash transfers to be rolled out across the affected populations, either through a full compensation for lost income and/or as a top up to social assistance program. In Baitadi, our partner RUDES is currently pushing the boundaries and supporting migrant workers with a top up. Our COVID-19 response is the best it can be and it took shape very fast, collaboratively and in an unusual working condition. I, thank you and congratulate you – partners, frontline responders and coworkers for this fantastic mobilization.

Our regular work was able to continue: a lot of planning and reporting work with year-end and the initiation of the new year. We will be busy until end of May when we hope that the lockdown will have eased. Our new structure is in place – we are each still learning to make it work, I am proud of all your efforts and willingness to embark with it, and I can see that the program team is jelling nicely.

We are all spending more time in our homes and with our families - by now we probably have a routine set up. Maybe we are taking this time to catch up on our old to-do lists, maybe we are resetting our internal clocks with thoughts about our lives, or just taking the day as it comes. Maybe we are bored. Maybe we are developing new skills. Some days are easier than others. I am grateful for your patience and your dedication in these circumstances, and hoping that our next newsletter will be written from our office and not from my sofa!

Stay safe and enjoy your read!

Sarah