Deepak Chapagain from Volunteer Corps Nepal points out that many average Nepalis he encounters do not trust any level of government. They feel that those who lack access to political parties will be shut out of official relief distribution.
VCN includes more than 3,000 trained local volunteers and a wider network of 8,000-plus people in 77 districts. It was on the ground in pre-lockdown days in Kathmandu, mooting the idea for traffic police to hold up small signs displaying Covid-19 information. Since then VCN has provided food to more than 5,000 people in Kathmandu Valley and to others leaving on foot.
The organisation raised more than $2,000 from online sales of the recent release from UK-based singer Yuval Gurung, who was in Nepal when the lockdown started, but it is not enough, Chapagain says. “Things will get worse in the days ahead and even government and international organisations are not responding on the ground, so we volunteer organisations have to be more active.”
Nita Raut had been providing food for daily wage workers, the homeless and others in Kathmandu even before this crisis. Usually Nepalis here and abroad learn about her work from the media or the foundation’s Facebook page, she notes via phone.
“I will help I have funds. If that is not enough I can use my own money,” says Raut, adding that she normally diverts 20% of her salary to run the foundation.
It’s not only individual NGOs that are filling the gap. Some private businesses are also playing a role, including KAVACH, which designs and manufactures motorcycle riding gear. Co-founder Arabinda Subedi says he and his partner began brainstorming on how to help soon after Covid-19 arrived. They decided to repurpose the company’s production to make PPEs, which are in short supply for medical staff and other frontline workers.
So far the company has made 2,500 PPEs, and has plans to scale up if necessary by using facilities at nearby factories. “Yes, as we are repurposing our production unit to PPEs although we are not yet clear how long we can afford to do this,” Subedi says.
One positive point made by most of these organisations is that they are working closely with local authorities, including police. Initially, officials in some places were resistant but all are now cooperating with the relief efforts.
List of organisations providing support during lockdown, by Nepal Coronavirus Response Group