03 May AHF COVID-19 latest information
Updated 8 July 2020
Our world has undergone enormous change. We are all experiencing immense uncertainty and vulnerability. We know this is the experience for each and every one of you, just as it is the case for women, men and children across the Himalaya.
We know from past emergencies such as the Nepal Earthquakes and the Global Financial Crisis, that with your support, our AHF family is a resilient and resourceful one.
Our important health, education and environmental programs have already helped to build resilience, capacity and opportunities for remote Himalayan families, to better position them to withstand threats and serious challenges such as poverty and natural disasters. This important work has only been possible with your support, for which the people of the Himalaya are so grateful, thank you.
We are totally committed to maintaining our promised practical assistance to the people of the Himalaya – “getting what is most needed, to those who need it most”.
THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON OUR PARTNERS AND PROGRAMS
We are in frequent contact with our partners in Nepal, Bhutan and the Indian Himalaya to understand how COVID-19 is affecting them, our programs, and the communities we partner with.
What is happening?
Nepal is now officially reporting over 16,000 cases of COVID-19 and this number continues to rise. With testing capacity low and predominantly limited to the Kathmandu valley, there is concern that case numbers are underestimated. As Nepal, and the Solukhumbu region particularly, lacks adequate resources to tackle a large outbreak of the disease, preventative measures are extremely important.
Nepal has been in an official lockdown since March 24th. Restrictions have now eased, however schools, colleges and most public gathering places are still closed, with domastic and international fights still grounded. Development projects, waste management, electricity, media and postal services are now permitted to go ahead, and as well as goods transport.
Essential goods – hand sanitiser, soap, masks, cooking gas, petrol and medicines – are in short supply and costs are rising.
With tourism stopped, borders closed and ordinary operations at a standstill, the communities and children we assist need our support more than ever.
What is AHF doing?
- Our Teacher Training and Quality Education Program and Nurses for Nepal programs already had sanitation and hygiene education activities in place (see video above)
- Our partner REED-Nepal has been broadcasting COVID-19 awareness messages across Province 1 (over 4.5 million people). They have held coronavirus information sessions with students, teachers and families
- Our health partner Action for Nepal is sourcing personal protective equipment which is lacking in these remote areas
- Action for Nepal has also held coronavirus information sessions with local health volunteers in rural/remote areas where accessible
- We are supporting our education partner, REED Nepal, in the production and broadcast of short radio lessons in English, Nepali, Maths and Science. This will reach over 1.2 million people in the Solukhumbu area including 18,000 students and 700 TTQE teachers
- Broadcast lessons are accompanied by messages of support and guidance for people who may be experiencing distress or anxiety, or who are unsafe in their homes
- We will continue to support and work with our partners in whatever capacity is needed.
The daily life of people has become difficult. There is a complete halt in their work and business. Since most of the community people depend on farming, it has a huge effect on day to day life”.
- Community member, Chheskam
What is happening?
- Bhutan immediately closed its borders to foreigners (“until further notice”) following the first diagnosis on 6 March. Bhutan now reports 80 cases. The official quarantine period in Bhutan is 21 days and is being managed tightly.
- The borders with India have been closed
- Bhutanese are free to travel within the country however are asked to keep to essential travel only
- Schools have been closed indefinitely. The Bhutanese government has distributed printed materials to those students who cannot access online learning.
What is AHF doing?
We are working with RENEW to ascertain how the scholarship program will be affected, and we will continue to support our partner in strengthening their organisation during this difficult time.
Indian now reports almost 700,000 COVID-19 cases. After a nationwide lockdown with total bans on leaving home other than for the most essential services, strict measures have now been eased. Movement is permitted other than in designated containment areas.
However the lockdown had a huge impact on millions of people. It forced migrant workers to flee cities once they were unable to work and buy food, and stopped earnings for many people.
- Ladakh, where we work with the Snow Leopard Conservancy Trust India, has recorded just over 1,000 cases. Our partner staff movements are severely restricted.
- We are working closely with our partner, Snow Leopard Conservancy Trust India to ensure program activities can resume as soon as possible
- We have been providing reliable information to pass on as there is a lot of misinformation through social media creating fear
- In Kalimpong, our program preserving the Tibetan performing arts is on hold as gatherings of people are not allowed. In the meantime, we are working with our partner Gangjong Doeghar to strengthen their organisation.
Many of you have asked what you can do to help…
- Donate today.
If you are in a position to give at this critical time, please give today to ensure we can get what is most needed to those who need it most.