KATHMANDU: With the monsoon season arriving, a new report from global organizations Mercy Corps and Practical Action highlights the increased risks to flood prone communities in Nepal.
In communities surveyed in western Nepal, over half of the flood evacuation sites don’t have handwashing facilities while 80% lack quarantine facilities. Because of the growing COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, Nepalese are also facing increased economic hardships and a food security crisis.
The report, avoiding a perfect storm: COVID-19 and floods in Nepal, surveyed Community Disaster Management Committees (CDMCs) in 46 flood prone communities across 5 districts in Nepal through phone interviews about their plans to respond to floods and COVID-19. It warns that with expected flooding during monsoon season, COVID-19 will exacerbate the situation for many vulnerable communities in Nepal.
In a report, it stated that 60% of communities already report food shortages, with marginalized groups, such as the Dalit population, especially facing difficulties.
Likewise, one in five communities surveyed are typically cut off from health services during floods and landslides in monsoon season.
Similarly, survey reports that only 17% of communities have quarantine facilities, and 22% of these facilities are at risk from flooding and landslides due to being in flood-prone areas and not having alternative sites while 43% of flood evacuation sites lack handwashing facilities, and 57% do not have hand soap in stock.
“COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations, many of whom are already on the front lines of the climate crisis. The pandemic makes it infinitely harder for families to cope with the upcoming monsoon season, with communities already reporting challenges in meeting basic needs such as food and water.
We know from previous flooding during monsoon season that conditions will only get worse”, Yoko Okura, Regional Program and Advocacy Manager, Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, Mercy Corps said.
“The monsoon season is an extremely difficult time for our community and it will be very challenging to respond to floods and safely evacuate people as we cannot ensure distancing.Laxmi Ghartimagar, Community Disaster Management Committee member in Nepal’s Kailali District said.