The people to the rescue in Nepal

The homepage of the citizens’-led Covid Connect Nepal initiative on 17 May. 160 volunteers are working around the clock.

There is no way to sugarcoat this – Nepal is being hammered by Covid-19. Just as in its giant neighbour, places such as the capital Kathmandu and cities bordering India have run out of intensive-care hospital beds and oxygen, extra cremation sites have been set up on the banks of rivers and fewer than 5% of people have been vaccinated, with no new jabs in sight.

Yet, as I’ve written before and talked about on the Nepal Now podcast, it is ordinary people who have stepped up to stop things from getting much much worse, while the politicians turned away from the dead and dying to engage in political power plays, as reported by Nepali Times.

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Shorter, not fatter

Mothers_Group_Achham_2018
A child eating at a Mother’s Group meeting devoted to nutritious feeding, in Nepal’s Achham district in 2018. Photo: Marty Logan

A study finding that infants in Kathmandu are getting 25% of their calories from junk foods was a major talking point in Nepal last week.

Looking at the article in The Journal of Nutrition, it is also surprising that among the 700 or so kids studied, the group who ate the most junk food were shorter than the average, not fatter as might be expected.

Shorter than average is a description of stunting, a major marker of childhood malnutrition. Decades ago Nepal had extremely high rates of stunting, which is also an indicator of a country’s development, but managed to reduce it greatly. Still, the country is not on track to meet the 2030 target of the Sustainable Development Goals: 15% of children under 5 stunted.

Below is my article published today in Nepali Times, online.

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Nepali migrants are building Kathmandu

Thousands of Nepalis migrate for work every day. Many go abroad but others head to the capital Kathmandu to build its infrastructure.

Rocking_baby_SMConstruction is happening everywhere in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu. Within a square kilometre of where I live there must be dozens of projects going up, mostly houses but also hotels, and other projects.

The work, such as mixing cement and hammering nails, is almost all done by hand, and the workers are not equipped with special clothing or safety gear. Passing many sites it’s obvious that the workforce lives on-site, sometimes in tents but, as I discovered writing and filming this article, sometimes in the cement shells of the buildings themselves.

Most of the workers are from other parts of Nepal, and neighbouring India. In Hotel Kutumba, where I spent some time, there were groups of 4 or 5 from various districts. Read the full article on the Nepali Times website or watch the video below: