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‘It’s Painful’: Nepal Families Face Hunger, Skip Meals as Coronavirus Pandemic Hits Remittances

Nepali housewife Shiba Kala Limbu ties up her five-year-old daughter Masim Limbu’s hair in Kathmandu, Nepal June 25, 2020. More than 56 % of Nepal’s estimated 5.four million households obtain remittances which might be an important lifeline for hundreds of households, who’re with out another supply of revenue, in response to official figures. Picture taken June 25, 2020. (REUTERS)

The unfold of the lethal respiratory illness attributable to the virus has choked economies worldwide and pitched thousands and thousands of migrant staff out of jobs, leaving them unable to ship cash dwelling.

  • Reuters Kathmandu
  • Last Updated: June 30, 2020, 7:37 AM IST

Nepali housewife Shiba Kala Limbu grimaced as she recalled how she went hungry with a purpose to feed her five-year-old daughter after the coronavirus pandemic price her husband his job as a mason within the Gulf state of Qatar.

The 25-year-old mentioned she had no cash for lease after the funds from her husband, Ram Kumar, stopped.

“It is painful,” she mentioned, as she peeled potatoes in a dimly lit kitchen that doubles as her bed room within the Baniyatar locality of the Nepali capital.

“I skipped several evening meals to save whatever little food I had for my daughter.”

The unfold of the lethal respiratory illness attributable to the virus has choked economies worldwide and pitched thousands and thousands of migrant staff out of jobs, leaving them unable to ship cash dwelling.

More than 56 % of Nepal’s estimated 5.four million households obtain remittances which might be an important lifeline for households that haven’t any different supply of revenue, official figures present.

Remittances totaled $8.1 billion final yr, or greater than 1 / 4 of Nepal’s gross home product, however are prone to drop 14% in 2020 due to the worldwide recession attributable to the virus, in addition to a fall in oil costs, the World Bank says. Millions of Nepali migrants work within the oil-rich Gulf nations and Malaysia.

Remittances are essential for lower-middle-class households which have moved to metropolis centres and depend on them to pay for lease, groceries, faculty charges and utilities, mentioned analyst Ganesh Gurung.

“Without remittances these families will get poorer and crimes like human trafficking and prostitution could rise,” mentioned Gurung, an professional on migrant points on the Nepal Institute of Development Studies suppose tank.

Limbu, the housewife, used to obtain as much as 20,000 Nepali rupees ($165) each month earlier than the pandemic.

But within the final six months she has acquired solely 40,000 Nepali rupees from her husband, most of it borrowed from his associates.

“That’s all he has managed to send this year,” she mentioned. “I used some of it to pay for the rent and the rest to buy groceries.”

In the southwestern city of Gajedah, Radha Marasini mentioned her husband, Indra Mani, misplaced his job as a safety guard at a textile manufacturing unit in India’s northern metropolis of Ludhiana after the outbreak.

As her revenue dried up, the 43-year-old had no possibility however to show to an area lender and pay crippling rates of interest to make sure she and her 15-year-old son can survive.

“If the corona (virus) situation does not improve, we’ll have to eat only one meal a day,” Marasini mentioned.

The virus has triggered 13,248 infections and 29 deaths in Nepal.

Some migrants, like Limbu’s husband Ram Kumar, are staying abroad regardless of the lack of their jobs, in hopes the state of affairs will enhance and so they can resume work.

“It is traumatic to be away from the family,” Kumar mentioned from Qatar, which plans a restricted re-opening of eating places, seashores and parks from July 1.

“If there was any hope for finding a job in Nepal, I would go.”


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