COVID-19 crisis could affect Nepal’s foreign aid: Report

COVID-19 crisis could affect Nepal’s foreign aid: Report

The ‘Great Lockdown’ (as coined by the IMF) imposed to control the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic has brought majority of the global economic activity to a standstill, causing job losses across the world and hurting businesses. In order to flatten the COVID-19 curve, Nepal also implemented a nationwide lockdown, which has led the Himalayan nation into a risk of economic fallout.

Troubles are mounting for Nepal amid the battle against COVID-19 pandemic as experts believe that foreign aid to the country from international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) could go down this fiscal year due to the ongoing economic crisis. Being a cash-strapped nation, Nepal heavily relies on foreign aid for its socio-economic development infrastructure, and international NGOs have been providing a substantial amount of aid to the country over the past few years. The foreign funding increased after the 2015 earthquake to support Nepal’s rehabilitation projects.

However, according to media reports, representatives of international NGOs are in dilemma over their commitment to providing funding amid the financial crisis in the wake of the global health crisis. Officials at the Social Welfare Council told Nepal media that the Himalayan nation received a pledge amount of Rs 12 billion in the third quarter of the current fiscal year 2019-20. Furthermore, the council sanctioned developmental projects worth Rs 28 billion in the fiscal year 2018-2019, But, amid the pandemic circumstances, the Council is uncertain about receiving full fundings from foreign NGOs, which can adversely affect the development projects. As per SWC officials, project proposals worth Rs 4-5 billion still awaits approval from the council for their implementation.

Additionally, some experts suggest that some foreign NGOs can allocate funding to businesses and employment generation to support the people in crisis. Earlier, the Nepal government allowed the NGOs to divert 20% of their programme budget for the COVID-19 preparedness and response plan in the country.

Social Welfare Council’s information officer Durgha Bhattarai has told the Nepal media that almost 22 international NGOs are participating with the council and taken its approval to divert approximately Rs 750 million to the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The NGOs are working with local NGOs to provide assistance in areas of emergency relief, health, and sanitation.So far (April 27), Nepal has reported 52 Coronavirus confirmed cases, out of whom 16 have recovered. The KP Sharma Oli government has extended the lockdown till May 7 due to rising positive cases.

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