December 2019 will never get out of my mind. The day when human life encountered one of the biggest threats of COVID-19, and now, the whole world is going through a critical situation.
Nepal announced a nationwide lockdown which has already been extended three times and can be extended with pre-notice. The Government of Nepal announces Sudurpaschim Province as a high-risk area for the transmission of the virus. Around 65,000 Nepali migrant workers (as per the Bhimdatta municipality record) enter from India through Gaddachauki border in three days and on the other hand, the neighbouring country India is also going through the serious condition of COVID-19 with numerous cases being reported every day. In this situation, the Sudurpaschim Pradesh is indeed highly vulnerable. The community were not ready as they were unaware of COVID -19. As they lacked awareness on COVID-19 and the area also had open border and is very near to Indian community like Kutiya Kabar Mahakali Municipality; these reasons increased the risk of transmission of virus in Kanchanpur district.
by day the risk towards community and front-line workers were increasing and due to lock down the availability of hygiene and personal protective equipment materials is still not available in the market. The District Disaster Risk Management Committee of Kanchanpur announces support to every development partner and National Environment and Equity Development Society (NEEDS) Nepal, local NGO in a district is recognized for its support to the community during disasters. As we were running emergency relief Centre supported by Oxfam in Nepal from 2014, we felt more responsible to support during this time of crisis.
At that moment, the local government was unable to buy hygiene materials, and the unavailability of those materials was pushing the community to more risk.
Oxfam in Nepal decided to support front-line workers like doctors, security personals, social activist and volunteer working in the field in coordination with local government and District Disaster Risk Management Committee through NEEDS Nepal. However, it was very challenging to acquire materials from the market because of the lockdown. The Executive Director of NEEDS Nepal, Mr. Bhawa Raj Regmi personally meet Chief District Officer (CDO) and requested him for a pass (movement authority from the government) and started coordinating with local vendors through telephones and visits. After many exercises, we finally got required materials from two different districts Kanchanpur and Kailali and we started distribution of materials from 25 March 2020 to Krishnapur, Belauri, Punarbas, Sukhlaphanta, Bedkot, Bhimdatta, Mahakali municipality and Laljhadi, Beldandi rural municipality of Kanchanpur district and District Disaster Relief Committee.
Mr. Bhawa Raj Regmi shared, "We feel glad that at the right time we could support all the nine Palikas of Kanchanpur." However, I felt that that there was a huge difference between this crisis and other disasters that we have responded to. I was scared, as every day I was visiting the new places and meeting new people. It is a good thing to meet new people and learn new things. However, this time it was different. I was scared of going back home, thinking that I may have carried the virus.
We made sure that all the precautionary measures were taken while distributing materials. I maintained proper distance, kept sanitizing my hands and even the vehicle we travelled in. After finishing all the distribution schedule, I directly went to Mahakali Zonal Hospital and tested myself for COVID-19. It took about two days to get the results back. For the first time, I felt happy to be “Negative"
We are the first to distribute materials in Kanchanpur district. The DDRC and all the nine Palikas appreciated our quick response.
Mr Surendra Bist, Mayor of Bhimdatta Municipality said, "We appreciate the work done by NEEDS Nepal. NEEDS Nepal helped us with hygiene material as well as support in every step of response. Thank you to Oxfam in Nepal as well for supporting us in every step of development"
This blog is written by Mr. Kishan Khadka from NEEDS Nepal, an implementing partner of Oxfam in Nepal for TROSA project.