KATHMANDU, 9 June 2020:
The UN Development Programme has initiated a livelihoods recovery programme to help the most vulnerable people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the first phase of the programme, to be implemented jointly with the local governments, over 2000 women and men – especially the poor, vulnerable and the most-affected daily wage earners and migrant workers – will get short-term employment though small-scale community and tourism infrastructure projects in 11 of the most affected municipalities in Sudurpaschim, Karnali, Gandaki and Bagmati.
Besides a daily wage, workers will be offered the opportunity to access skills training and technology support aimed at supporting the establishment of potentially up to 600 micro-enterprises to generate longer term livelihood opportunities in these areas. In Gandaki, workers will be engaged to clean up trekking trails and plant trees.
The same programme will provide short-term employment opportunities through projects focusing on the rehabilitation, construction, or improvement of community infrastructure, such as irrigation canals, drinking water system, and rural roads. Up to 23 such schemes are planned, which will be implemented under the leadership of user groups from these same communities. These schemes aim to provide short-term employment to over 1200 hardest hit people.
These activities are part of UNDP’s socio-economic recovery response, which will be funded with US$1.5 million of UNDP’s own resources. Responding to a call from the government, UNDP is also repurposing previously launched projects towards the broader COVID response in consultation with national implementing partners. In some instances, local municipalities are expected to co-finance these projects, in the spirit of building on their ongoing partnership with UNDP.
Some of the planned activities have begun in earnest. The Sadhikhola Virkuna irrigation project in Kakani Rural Municipality, Ward 6, started last week and is expected to engage up to 400 people, most of them farmers. The canal will irrigate 21 hectares of agricultural land (435 ropanies) directly benefiting 75 households. Similar projects have started at Palungtar Municipality in Gorkha, Melamchi Municipality and Helambu Rural Municipality in Sindhupalchowk and Jiri Municipality in Dolakha, each engaging over 300 people.
“Building on our ongoing partnership with UNDP, we are pleased to launch half a dozen projects in this municipality, which are now engaging over 300 unemployed men and women. The municipality is co-funding these initiatives under the Prime Minister Employment Programme. Going ahead, we hope to explore more possibilities to help recover livelihoods of the people affected by the pandemic,” said Mayor of Melamchi Municipality Dambar B Aryal.
UNDP plans to expand the recovery activities to other municipalities in quick succession. In parallel, UNDP is designing a dedicated programme to create another 5,000 short-term jobs for the tourism and hospitality sector workers who have lost jobs.
Bernardo Cocco, UNDP’s Deputy Resident Representative said, “As part of our early recovery response, and complementing government efforts, we are re-deploying a significant portion of our resources for targeted interventions supporting recovery of the most vulnerable populations.”
UNDP will be leveraging its local and international experience on livelihood support through mobilization of cooperatives and development of enterprises and community infrastructure to create jobs.
UNDP’s recovery support is informed by our recent assessment – “Rapid Assessment of the Social and Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on the vulnerable groups in Nepal” which provides important policy pointers for Nepal’s socio-economy recovery, including in the context of the current national budget.
UNDP’s livelihood recovery work is one of three drivers of its COVID-19 response strategy in support of the Government of Nepal, along with health system support, and crisis management and response support.