As the COVID-19 situation in the UK continues to improve and we look forward to more freedom, the situation in Nepal has become critical.
As I am sure you are aware, the second wave of Covid-19 infections in India has devastated the country’s health system and seen hundreds of thousands of new infections and the impact of this huge surge is now being felt acutely across the border in Nepal.
Cases in Nepal have surged by 1,200% in recent weeks, with the number of daily infections increasing from 100 to over 9,070 in the last month. Perhaps more worryingly, the national testing positivity rate is being reported at a huge 47% and with ICUs full and oxygen supplies critically low in some regions.
International observers say that Nepal is on the brink of a human catastrophe.
As a result, several regions across Nepal have imposed new lockdowns, including in Pokhara and Butwal where the majority of our work takes place. After being closed for six months last year, schools have been forced to close again and, as the majority of our beneficiaries lack the means to access on-line learning opportunities, the impact on their educational attainment is dire. As too is the impact of restrictions on livelihood opportunities which, having just started to recover, are again being decimated. This means ever more families are struggling to survive and thousands of children being at even greater risk of neglect and harm.
Our team on the ground is using their extensive experience from last year’s crisis to coordinate our response. We are providing emergency aid to children and their families, working to protect the most vulnerable children from harm, and also looking to re-start our community learning classes.
At the same time we face our own challenges – not least the impact of the FCDO’s recent and controversial decision to significantly reduce its investment in overseas development, including terminating a large number of grants supporting ongoing projects. This means that unless we can secure funding from other sources, we may have to prematurely terminate our adolescent health and wellbeing improvement project at a time when such support is more critical than ever.
We also have the challenge of keeping our staff safe and, despite all having received their first vaccine, one of our team has contracted the virus. Furthermore, the likelihood of staff receiving their second shot is now at risk due to a severe shortage of vaccine supplies.
Despite these challenges, we remain committed to doing all we can to protect the most vulnerable children and keep them safe during this escalating crisis. However, how much we are able to do relies on the generosity of our supporters and therefore we would be really grateful for any help you are able to give.
If a more detailed conversation about the situation on the ground would be useful, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the email below.
With very best wishes