Report: 27% of Nepalis fell into debt due to pandemic

Hundreds of thousands of people were infected with COVID-19, and thousands died and were hospitalized during the pandemic that started in Nepal in March 2020. But the effects of the pandemic were not only limited to infections, deaths and hospitalizations.

Around 27% of the population throughout the country became indebted in the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund.

According to the findings of the study “Child and Family Tracker,” which was carried out on various dates from May 2020 to April 2022 in all seven provinces throughout the country, 12% of the population sold assets to cope with the financial problems during the pandemic.

The report says, “6% of the population on an average throughout the country lost jobs during the pandemic,” and “7% of the population reported reducing dietary intake.”

The majority of those who lost jobs during the pandemic were from Sudurpaschim Province (around 10%) followed by Karnali Province (around 7%).

Financial assistance, food, employment and child education were major needs of the respondents.

“Respondents reporting job losses are twice as likely to be struggling for food,” states the report. “Struggle for food is linked to lack of money and rising prices.”

Respondents from lower-income groups are much more likely to report reduced dietary intake for children (11%), according to the report.

Nepal saw three waves of the pandemic, with the second being the most devastating, during which many people lost their lives while thousands struggled for hospital beds and oxygen.