Photo Courtesy: UNICEF
January 23: The pandemic induced by Covid-19 pushed many governments worldwide to take measures such as lockdowns and quarantines to stop its spread. Since March 2020, Nepal has also imposed restrictions on movements and lockdowns, which inevitably led to social and economic hardships such as job loss, disruptions in public services, and limited access to healthcare and education. These visible impacts of the pandemic include a range of multiple issues that children had to face such as losing access to education and compromising their diets due to their caregivers' food insecurity and job losses.
A significant percentage of population in Nepal remains at risk of falling into poverty, a nationwide remote survey entitled ‘Tracking Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID 19 on Children and Families in Nepal’ states.
The survey conducted by Sharecast Initiative Nepal in collaboration with UNICEF demonstrated key developments in the lives of the households with children since May 2020. It has revealed that July 2020 recorded more than 60 percent of the households with children lost income and livelihood. Although the percentage of the households with livelihood and income loss has been decreasing substantially since then, a significant percentage of population remains at risk of falling into poverty. As of November 2021, 33 percent of households were at risk of poverty.
The survey was conducted to understand the evolving situation of households with children during the pandemic. Starting from its inception in May 2020, UNICEF and Sharecast Initiative Nepal conducted eight rounds of surveys to monitor and track changes in more than 6,000 households’ livelihood, WASH, and children’s access to education, including food intake and healthcare of children, breastfeeding and pregnant mothers, shared Chief Executive Officer of Sharecast Initiative, Madhu Acharya.
According to the survey, major emerging needs of families in the pandemic were reportedly financial assistance, food and employment. The survey showed that families continue to incur debt and deplete assets as a coping mechanism. Around 60 percent of parents were found confident about sending their children back to school and 80 percent felt that their children were lagging behind in studies. A total of 21 percent of households with children struggled to obtain enough food in November 2021, the survey revealed.
Nearly 10 percent of these households reduced dietary intake of their children. Likewise, 15 percent of the respondents reported witnessing violence against women and children was increasing. Roughly, 10 percent of respondents also reported witnessing child labour.
According to the findings of the survey, 84 percent of respondents wore masks to protect themselves from Covid-19 and 71 percent of the respondents were vaccinated in November 2021. -- RSS