UK aid for Nepal’s Covid-affected

The UK government has contributed $5.75 million to help Nepal’s most vulnerable 160,000 families to cope with the impact of the pandemic in the country’s remote and under-served districts.

The contribution from the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), will allow WFP to support 65,000 people with cash-based assistance in Sarlahi, Rautahat, Kalikot, Dailekh and Bajura districts. It will also provide 73,000 vulnerable young mothers and their children in all eight Province 2 districts with nutritious food and counselling.

Meanwhile, more than 19,000 people will have jobs working on trails and bridge improvements in Gorkha, Dhading and Rasuwa districts that were hit hard by 2015 earthquake. Community-based projects will provide employment, and UKAid says earnings will help provide a much needed boost to the local economy.

“Over the very long relationship between the people of Nepal and the British public, the UK has provided help in times of crisis. The Covid-19 crisis is no exception,” says Lisa Honan, Development Director at the British Embassy Kathmandu. “I am proud that we are providing UKaid to help some of the poor and vulnerable people of Nepal, particularly mothers and children, who have been especially hard hit.”

The pandemic has destroyed work and livelihood opportunities for many households, particularly in rural Nepal. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have returned home from India and the Gulf. Others have lost their small businesses or daily wage jobs.

According to the second household survey by Ministry of Agriculture and WFP Nepal, over 20% of households in Nepal are severely food insecure, meaning they struggle to buy or produce enough food to live a healthy life, while 43% of children between 6-23 months do not have enough variety in their diet.

Sudurpaschim, Karnali and Province 2 are the most food insecure with 23.8%, 23.3% and 22.1% of households consuming inadequate diet. Similarly, 11% of households reported job loss and 31.2% a reduction in income (highest in province 1 at 40.5% and 38.8% and 38.3% in Sudurpaschim and Province 2).

Families with disabled, elderly, children, Covid-19 patients or with pre-existing medical conditions, as well as pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers, have been most severely affected.

WFP will provide these households with unconditional cash support so that they don’t have to resort to eating fewer and smaller meals, child labour or child marriage, undermining Nepal’s dramatic progress in public health and education.

“We are thankful for this timely commitment from the United Kingdom when the most vulnerable and food-insecure families in Nepal are facing an increase in food prices, decrease in income and large-scale unemployment,” says Pippa Bradford, WFP Nepal Country Director.

The latest contribution from the UK Government follows aid over $4.4 million from 2017-2021 to the Emergency Preparedness and Response Project to help WFP build logistic bases across the country.

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