In the last week, Nepal reported almost 30,000 new cases. The lockdown in the Kathmandu Valley has been extended to mid-June. Despite the challenges, the Asha team is remaining positive.
"In our part of Kathmandu the first initial panic of the second wave has calmed a bit. One of our staff member contracted COVID-19 but is recovering well. Many of the families we support in the community, who were showing symptoms of COVID-19, but hadn't been tested due to the cost and fear of overcrowded testing centres, have improved. However, with multiple family members sharing one room it is impossible to quarantine.
Most families are unable to work. The lockdown has been very restrictive with significant police presence on the streets and we generally only go out once or twice in 10 days to buy groceries.
Some families are experiencing a food crisis. Last week we are distributed food rations to 10 families in the community, who are unable to access government support.
It has been difficult to to provide regular counselling with lockdown restrictions. Our social workers and counsellors are doing phone call sessions but some of the women and girls are struggling without in-person sessions.
Schools have just recently started back and it's positive to see the girls continuing to study virtually.”
The impact of poverty and debt on modern slavery is direct.
COVID-19 creates space for trafficking and exploitation as vulnerable communities feeling the financial hit of COVID-19 may be forced into risky employment.
Studies also show that times of crisis aggravate domestic, gender-based and sexual violence. Lockdown restrictions can also disrupt the progress of response efforts. Nepal's National Human Rights Commission recorded that, during the nationwide lockdown in Nepal last year, the government-run domestic violence hotline received 885 reports over two months, more than double for the same period the previous year.
In partnership with Asha Nepal we work to break the cycle of violence against women and girls, through family strengthening, education and pathways to employment. During COVID-19, it is particularly important that services remain consistent to support wellbeing, family stability, and protect against re-trafficking.