Every third family lost income across Nepal due to COVID-19, in earthquake-affected areas it is 87% of households
In May 2020, People in Need (PIN) and Community Self-Reliance Centre (CSRC) conducted a multi-sectoral needs assessment in 21 districts to assess the impact of COVID-19-related measures on the lives of vulnerable communities affected by the 2015 earthquake.
Key findings from the needs assessment show that:
- 65% of households reported reduced access to market; 54% of households with access to market could not make purchases as usual.
- 65% faced food shortages among which 51% had food supplies sufficient for 2.5 weeks or less.
- 11% reduced their daily food intake for at least one day.
- 61% rely on skilled or unskilled daily wage work as their main source of income.
- 87% experienced a decrease in income or are currently without any income at all; 45% reported no or limited work opportunities for unskilled labour as one of the reasons.
- 53% have taken out a loan as their main coping strategy against income shortage. (M49% F 60%)
- 65% reported they could not buy items as usual due to decreased income.
- 81% reported income loss as the biggest issue they are currently facing due to lockdown and COVID-19.
- 59% said they were feeling stressed, worried, or anxious during the lockdown period
- 13% participants reported increased gambling and alcohol abuse in their community. There were also a few cases of elopement resulting in child marriage.
As per a recent assessment on the impact of COVID-19 , 30% of families reported a loss of income across Nepal due to COVID-19, compared to 87% of people PIN and CSRC teams spoke with. Such disproportionate effect on earthquake-affected communities highlights their fragile socioeconomic status, mainly the reliance on local informal economy and difficulties finding alternative sources of livelihoods at times when traditional options to trade skilled or unskilled labour are suddenly unavailable.
Furthermore, a number of underlying structural vulnerabilities have made these communities less resilient to withstand the shocks of the COVID-19 measures. This includes the lingering inability to reconstruct shelters damaged five years ago owing to a combination of factors:
- Physical: Households led by elderly with limited physical abilities, single/female-headed households, families with a large number of dependents, or family members with disabilities.
- Economic: Mainly cyclical indebtedness and exploitation at the hands of local moneylenders
- Social: Poor access to resources or local networks, low education levels, and gendered social hierarchies and harmful social norms (i.e. child marriage as a tolerated coping strategy at times of distress)
- Geohazard: Earthquake-affected communities who continue to live in areas at risk of seasonal landslides.
These vulnerabilities are felt more acutely especially by Chepang, Dalit and hill janajati communities, for whom the current crisis continues to accentuate deep socioeconomic inequities and social exclusion predicated on historic and systemic marginalization.