What is the Covid situation in Nepal?
The covid situation in Nepal is worsening despite the prohibitory orders placed in 73 out of 77 districts. There are now 101,993 active cases and 7555 total deaths recorded in the country with a population of 30 million. The transmission started from the bordering Terai region and neighboring India. It spread rapidly into the Kathmandu valley and has now devastated several hill districts including those with BE project sites.
Hospitals in Nepal are overwhelmed and intensive care units are flooded with critical cases of COVID-19 patients. As hospitals run out of oxygen supplies and medicines, patients are being turned away. Nepal’s COVID-19 response is being carried out under the leadership of 25 hub hospitals across the country, but one year into the pandemic, many of them are still ill-prepared. The lack of coordination among the local, provincial and federal governments and the ongoing political turmoil has weakened the healthcare system as a whole. With limited capacities, hospitals have stopped admitting new patients. In fact, Nepal’s healthcare is quite fragile. Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) records reveal that it has only 1,595 intensive care beds, 480 ventilators, and 0.7 doctors per 100,000 for its total population.
How does the Covid situation affect BE projects in Nepal?
The BE projects that were in progress at the time of this upheaval have all been affected to some degree.
The Women’s Empowerment conferences, originally scheduled in the month of May, have been postponed until the infection is under control and the restrictions to gather have been eased. Similarly, the Hydroponics Pilot Project aimed at addressing the food shortage and malnutrition issues in the hill districts has been put on hold.
On a positive note, the work on building the Siraichuli Primary School continues, with the completion date pushed out from the end of May to the end of August. Under the supervision of a construction manager, 44 volunteers and a hired mason have been busy laying the foundation, creating the framework, building the walls, and laying the roof on the new buildings.
How did the BE organization adapt to the crisis in Nepal?
Given the dire situation in disease-stricken Nepal, the BE team realized that the success of the mission to educate and empower the children in Nepal is integrally connected to the outcome of the fight against the Covid-19 disease. As a result, for the duration of this crisis, the team has agreed to pivot briefly from their established plan to address the critical issue at hand. The BE team has decided to join hands with locally situated organizations to channel funds into efforts to contain and combat this disease, especially among the most vulnerable populations of the country.
What are the covid relief efforts undertaken by BE organization?
Preliminary research and conversations are underway to identify the most trusted and reputable organizations in Nepal that are focused solely on Covid issues and that are actively involved in procuring oxygen cylinders and ventilators. Volunteer mobilization i.e. the cost and effort needed to make volunteers available where they are needed is another area of focus that the BE team has identified as an urgent need.
Partner organizations will be chosen based on the following criteria:
- Direct provision of life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable
- Reputable organization that has a track record of providing health services and regular updates
- Openness and willingness to partner and develop a long term relationship
- A strong local presence with a committed and reliable team that executes decisions and implements plans in a timely manner
- A strong alignment with Building Education’s values and inclusive agenda
Subsequently, partnerships with fundraising organizations within the United States will also be established in order to generate the money that can be channeled into Nepal. The BE team would ensure that the chosen organizations are aligned with the BE values and goals.
For the BE team, “Don’t expect to see a change if you don’t make one” is the guiding wisdom in the devastating storm that has been unleashed in Nepal. As the situation evolves, the BE team continues to adapt its project plans to the urgent needs of the local population while still staying true to its ultimate goal of empowerment through education.