Together to combat the coronavirus impact
Like many countries across the world, Nepal has been joining the global battle against COVID-19. Since March 24, it has been in total lockdown.
The situation has brought uncertainty for many, but particularly for women survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), one of the most vulnerable groups in Nepali society, and on the labor market to be exact. Unemployment rates rose quickly in a few weeks due to the economic crisis generated by the virus. Many women who had to struggle to get a job, often humble and low paid work, are now losing it.
On the other hand, the forced quarantine is restricting the movement of people, so women are in a state of increased dependence on their family, often forced to remain in a violent environment at home, just to be able to support themselves and their children.
THE PRECARIUSNESS OF THE MOST VULNERABLE
At this moment, our main concern are women and children who risk exposure to addiction, violence, and abuse, especially those who have recently gone out from CASANepal or other safe houses we run. While they struggle to find a place for themselves in society, our fear is that they will not be able to sustain themselves in the coming months, since many of them already had precarious jobs when isolation began and now have suddenly found themselves without any remuneration and with little savings to count on.
Assisting them is critical at this moment. We have been in regular contact with them since the start of the quarantine to find out what they need: it soon became clear that everyone needs cash just to get basic daily necessities.
For instance, M.T., a GBV survivor who was at CASANepal for six months with her two daughters, made a living by working on construction sites for a daily wage. She has not been able to go to work and earn her salary since the lockdown began. Now, she’s almost gone through her savings and is planning to go back to her village in Sindhupalchowk District with her daughters. It is a two-day journey on foot since there is no public transportation.
However, GBV survivors who have reintegrated to society aren’t the only ones with economic troubles at the moment. The families we support through education interventions are also experiencing great difficulty. These are extremely vulnerable families who have always lived on the edge of society, and who are unable to meet their basic needs due to the public health and economic crisis that has paralyzed the country.
WHAT WE ARE DOING TO RESPOND TO THIS EMERGENCY
Fortunately, we received modest but critical support from one of our long-time partners to be able to help 27 mother-child groups during the first phase of this emergency. However, we are aware that the second phase of emergency will be equally difficult and a strong impact on people’s lives and livelihoods is expected: the initial funds will not last long.
Requests for help continue to arrive nonstop, and the next few months will not be easy for the women and vulnerable families we have been supporting. It is therefore essential to act now to assist women and their children in the long months ahead. We have decided to establish a flexible fund, a source of concrete help for people who will need it to face this emergency’s afterlife.
Women and families will be identified through a quick telephone survey led by staff, and the grant will be unconditional and easily accessible. The only condition of funding will be to inform Apeiron on how the amount of money will be used.
As a representative of her family, each woman will receive a sum of 10,000 Nepali rupees (about 80 euros) that can be used to meet the most pressing needs, for example, paying the cost of rent, bills, food, phone credit, children’s school expenses; or repaying debts and loans (often caused by abusers or the absence of a fixed job).Obviously, this type of funding is not effective for all GBV survivors and their children, and it cannot become the only means of support over a long period of time. But it will allow those who need immediate assistance to catch their breath and face the pandemic and its effects with a measure more of serenity.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- you can partially contribute to the support of a woman and her children, or a vulnerable family, during the COVID-19 emergency with a donation of 40 euros;
- you can fully cover the sum provided to a family in need, or to a mother-child group, through the flexible fund with a donation of 80 euros;
- you can support the daily expenses faced by two particularly vulnerable families or by two women, former guests of CASANepal with a donation of 160 euros;
- you can support the daily expenses faced by four women (former guests of CASANepal and covered by the flexible fund) and their children, or by larger families, with a donation of 320 euros.