The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic hit people hard all around the world. But it hits people like Sani and her parents-in-law in Nepal particularly strongly. Single mothers, persons with disabilities and elderly people with no or very small incomes have no resources to bridge a crisis like the current pandemic. That’s why ACT Alliance-members like Christian Aid focus their aid on highly vulnerable groups like these.
Sani Tamang lost her eyesight due to an illness when she was eight years old. She didn’t have the opportunity to study or learn a vocation skill. Currently, her life revolves around her four-year-old son who is her reason for living. Her husband left her a few years ago just after a month of marriage. She now lives with her elderly in-laws in Tamakoshi, Dolakha. Padam Lama is 77 years old and his wife, Batuli Lama, 73 years old. The couple are tenants on a small farm and their only regular income is the old age allowance they get. Sani helps them by cutting grass and peeling vegetables to cook. Her father-in-law works as a labourer whenever he can to meet the family’s needs. When the government of Nepal announced the lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis though, he had no option but to stay home. As a result, the family has problems earning enough income to cover their daily needs.
Sani says that there was no cash to buy food and the grocery shop also stopped giving anything on credit as they already had old debts to pay. Due to the lockdown, Sani couldn’t get the social security allowance for disabled persons as the government offices were closed for some time and the money was not released. This meant that they were not sure when they would get the allowance. Sani’s family urgently required support to meet their basic food needs. They had very little savings so they were depending on some food they had in the farm, including millet and maize. With their little available money, they had to buy vegetables, oil and lentils. They could not afford much and also had to save some of their money as they were not sure how long the lockdown would last.
However, the local government of Tamakoshi included Sani and her relatives in the list of families to receive support from organisations like Christian Aid and the Community Development Forum (CDF) Nepal that provide food supplies for the families in need.
It was really a happy and delightful moment for the family as they received enough food supplies for a month. For Sani it meant that she could feed her son a proper meal and not worry about food. “We are cooking the food we got and enjoying our meals. My son heartily savours eating and that makes me content and joyful,” she expresses.
Positive changes in the Municipality
The Tamakoshi Rural Municipality realised the difficulties that people were going through due to the lack of a social security allowance. So after a few weeks of lockdown they released the money to help them in these critical times. The municipal government in spite of the restrictions due to COVID-19 allowed development and construction work so that people could earn money for their daily household needs by working for the building owners.
As part of their response to COVID-19, Christian Aid Nepal has been supporting the communities of Rasuwa, Khotang, Dolakha, Dhading, Bardiya and Kailali districts, focusing on women, persons with disabilities, elderly and other vulnerable groups.
ACT Alliance Response
ACT Alliance launched its global COVID-19 response globally, directly funding ACT members’ support of communities affected by COVID-19. ACT’s total response includes members like Christian Aid who have raised their own funding. ACT members support people like Sani and her family in improving their own lives by supporting national health systems, working with community leaders in providing accurate and timely information to communities, and providing sorely needed support. Always with a focus on gender, and the protection of the most vulnerable communities while engaging local faith actors to actively participate in humanitarian action.
Sunjuli Singh Kunwar, Christian Aid Nepal