Supporting vulnerable communities during pandemic

Chatur Tamang, 32, is one of the internally displaced persons who lives in Karmarang, ward no. 1 of Uttargaya rural municipality of Rasuwa district. Uttargaya was massively affected by earthquake of 2015 due to which, more than 650 households were internally displaced and amongst them 400 displaced households have still been temporarily living in settlements of ward no. 5 of Uttargaya. Chatur is one of them. “Due to pandemic and lock down, movement has been restricted which has affected our individual and household income,” says Chatur.

Many communities hosting internally displaced lack adequate investment into health, water and sanitation facilities, in addition to the issues of overcrowding, poor shelter facilities, scarce resources and limited access to reliable information. “We are already affected from earthquake and we are still not able to construct safe house for ourselves,” adds Chatur.

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has added onto the already existing issues faced by communities mostly vulnerable groups. The restriction on the movement and other measures imposed by the local authorities as a control measures has been impacting the daily lives of the displaced persons. The impact felt by these communities exasperated already complex barriers for displaced persons to seek solutions for betterment of their lives.

Purnima, a UK aid funded program which is managed by Mott MacDonald, has been has been supporting vulnerable people like Chatur through ‘Leave No One Behind’ post-earthquake recovery. It focuses on socio-economic recovery and housing reconstruction for vulnerable people massively affected by the earthquake, including single women, persons with disability, senior citizen, internally displaced people, ultra-poor and food insecure households of Uttargaya and Naukunda rural municipality of Rasuwa. Through this project, Purnima is working in close coordination with local authorities and other development partners, to support these vulnerable families with basic personal protective materials, such as mask, handwashing soaps and food relief items as an immediate support. Key messages of COVID-19 safety precautions are also being disseminated.

The support program was jointly organized by respective ward offices, local organization SEED and Purnima project. Purnima field team supported authorities in mapping, identifying and selecting beneficiaries, distribution of relief items, maintaining Government of Nepal’s public health safety protocol and Purnima’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on COVID-19. This joint support has been very effective as the most vulnerable people received basic food and non-food relief packages, addressing their burning needs.

Till now, though few cases of COVID-19 are seen nearby of the settlements which was carried by migrant returnees, there are no any further transmission reported. However, higher need of multiple support of food and water, sanitation and hygiene along with awareness and health related activities are still present.