2.1. Humanitarian Context
Nepal remains a priority country for emergency response preparedness within the Asia-Pacific region given its high risk to natural hazards. The country’s mountainous terrain poses significant logistical challenges to access and deliver relief to remote areas.
Since 2005, around 35 disaster events (floods, landslides and earthquakes) affected about 7.8 million people and caused over 10,000 deaths, mostly by the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. Nepal is also vulnerable to slow-onset disasters. In 2016 the Karnali region experienced drought resulting in 150,000 people requiring food assistance.
COVID-19 and a 120-day national lockdown (March 24th-July 22nd) plus a second 22-day lockdown in Kathmandu valley (Aug 19th-Sept 10th) caused disruptions to national and international transport systems, affecting the ability of government and humanitarian workers to respond. Although the lockdown was partially lifted, a significant rise in COVID-19 cases since July resulted in local movement restriction orders and constraints for humanitarian staff to access project sites.
To support Nepal Government and humanitarian organizations in responding to COVID-19, the National Logistics Cluster (LC) was activated in April 2020 with the main purpose to provide common logistic services like storage and transport of medicine, medical goods, and medical equipment mandated by the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) for prevention of COVID-19 transmission, control and treatment to hospitals and primary health care facilities.
The LC provides storage services at three Humanitarian Staging Areas (HSAs) at Kathmandu Airport, Nepalgunj Airport and Dhangadhi Airport, and provision of free transport to the users from Kathmandu to provincial capitals and from the provincial capitals to district headquarters.
The challenges of accessing those in need due to the mountainous terrain in Nepal and the precautions needed as a result of the virus, are likely to be exacerbated when COVID-19 cases will be rising.
2.2. Humanitarian Operational Response to COVID-19
Under the joint leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and WHO, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) continues to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in support of the Government, along with contingency planning and preparedness for a scaled-up response.
The HCT National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP) and government Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for COVID-19 are in place, yet both documents shall be revised by December 2020. The revised CPRP will be based on the planning figure of 148,000 active cases identified by the Government of Nepal for the period of November 2020 to February 2021, and the worst-case scenario caseload of 300,000 active cases.
The Nepal National Logistics cluster is working closely with the COVID-19 Crisis Management Center (CCMC), Ministry of Health and Population, the UN system and NGO community, providing supply chain services where commercial capacity has been disrupted, ensuring that critical health and humanitarian staff and supplies can be delivered to where they are needed most.
The partners who participated in the GNA exercise are implementing activities through a wide range of sectors (each minimum in 3 sectors) with a focusing on WASH activities. The logistics component of their activities is very limited as organizations rely directly on the private sector or private implementers for their logistics needs as illustrated by the profiles of the interviewees: the majority of staff interviewed were programme staff rather than logistics staff.
2.3. Humanitarian Presence and Programming
The humanitarian and development community have a wide geographical coverage in Nepal. Most of partners who participated in the GNA exercise have programmatic presence in 5 or more provinces, implementing activities through a wide range of sectors, with a focus on WASH (43%), followed by Risk Communication and Community Engagement (14%) and Education (10%). Considering the geographic coverage, even some of the most remote and isolated communities in the country have contact with one or more humanitarian or development actor.
The logistics component of their activities is limited as organizations rely directly on the private sector or private implementers for their logistics needs as illustrated by the profiles of the interviewees.
This GNA was focused on assessing the current logistics and supply chain gaps and needs of government and humanitarian agencies as part of the ongoing COVID-19 response operation, rather than on general in-country logistics capacities of infrastructure and private sector logistics providers, which are described on the Logistics Capacity Assessment website, available at: https://dlca.logcluster.org/display/public/DLCA/Nepal.