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Part 3: When everything stands still

In the sec­ond inter­view of our series on Covid-19 and cli­mate change in coun­tries of the Glob­al South we talk with Pratik­shya Aryal, Kavi­ta Khanal and Sami­ta Ghimire from Nepal. They report about the sit­u­a­tion in their home coun­try due to Covid-19 and the cli­mate cri­sis. In the inter­view they also talk about the lessons we should learn from the pandemic.

Situation before Corona

Kli­madel­e­ga­tion e.V.: What was the sit­u­a­tion in your country/region like before the Coro­na pandemic?

Kavi­ta Khanal: Being a devel­op­ing coun­try, sea­son­al effects of cli­mate have always been affect­ing the peo­ple of Nepal over dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try wide­ly. Even though every­body along with the gov­ern­ment is well aware of the pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tion, Nepal is nev­er ever ful­ly pre­pared for the cli­mate change impacts. I per­son­al­ly observe my coun­try and gov­ern­ment to be reac­tive all the time instead of proac­tive­ly plan­ning what is in need here. As I am pur­su­ing my stud­ies away from my home­town, dis­as­ters like floods or land­slides have been prob­lem­at­ic for me in trav­el­ling back.

Pratik­shya Aryal: The cli­mat­ic vari­a­tion shapes the bio­geo­graph­i­cal dis­tri­b­u­tion of species in Nepal. Ani­mals tends to move to areas, where humans are preva­lent. There­fore, we could sus­pect for a new pan­dem­ic to evolve as ani­mals are mov­ing towards the human habits and most of the pan­demics till date are zoonot­ic. As the lock­down con­tin­ues, pol­lu­tion has been decreased which makes envi­ron­ment clean and green. But this is only of short duration. 

Soon it’s going to look the way it did before if we don’t change things now.

Kli­madel­e­ga­tion e.V.: What about the political/societal situation?

Sami­ta Ghimire: Nepal is a devel­op­ing coun­try and does­n’t have the most effec­tive infra­struc­ture and health­care sys­tem. While the num­ber of health­care facil­i­ties are increas­ing, there is unequal dis­tri­b­u­tion of the avail­able facil­i­ties in the region. The vil­lages lack even the basic health­care facil­i­ties that are eas­i­ly avail­able in the cities. The con­di­tion of socio- econ­o­my is sim­i­lar. There is dis­par­i­ty in dif­fer­ent econ­o­my class­es as well as gender.

Pratik­shya Aryal: As the pan­dem­ic start­ed every­thing stopped, which leads us to var­i­ous chal­lenges. The dis­rup­tion caused by the pan­dem­ic in all aspects such as infra­struc­tur­al devel­op­ment, indus­tries, busi­ness, edu­ca­tion and socio-eco­nom­ic development.The pan­dem­ic has also impacts on envi­ron­ment and cli­mat­ic variation.

Kavi­ta Khanal: For health and pub­lic health, even though it hasn´t been done much, I still feel the sit­u­a­tion is some­how bet­ter than in ear­li­er times. That might be the rea­son why nepal is right now able to some­how man­age covid sit­u­a­tion. But still pub­lic health has real­ly not got prop­er atten­tion. Before this coro­na sit­u­a­tion, Nepal was not at all ready or pre­pared for any kind of pan­demics, but luck­i­ly the coro­na wave is delayed here in our coun­try so that we got the time to get pre­pared. Anoth­er major prob­lem I must men­tion is “cor­rup­tion” in every gov­ern­ment per­son, sec­tor, which is not let­ting any­thing work for the bet­ter of the soci­ety in anyway.

Situation during Corona

Kli­madel­e­ga­tion e.V.: How did Coro­na affect you and your family? 

Kavi­ta Khanal: Coro­na has real­ly affect­ed me and my fam­i­ly a lot. Social­ly we are so fright­ened of an infec­tion that we only go out for basic things. Even if we wear masks, gloves and main­tain social dis­tanc­ing we don’t feel secure or safe. 

Eco­nom­i­cal inse­cu­ri­ty real­ly affect­ed us, because we had to stock up the basic things due to lock­down. We have the per­cep­tion that we won’t be able to get the stuff as they are going out of stock in mar­kets. Dur­ing coro­na my father was­n’t able to go for his job and to earn money.

A street mar­ket in Nepal

Sami­ta Ghimire: Being a low­er mid­dle class fam­i­ly, we were one of the ones who were hit most by the pan­dem­ic. Dai­ly life has come to a halt due to lock­down. Even after com­plet­ing my edu­ca­tion, I haven’t been able to pur­sue career oppor­tu­ni­ty due to the nation­al lockdown.

Pratik­shya Arya: Coro­na has many impacts on us. Due to lock­down, we are not able to con­tin­ue our dai­ly sched­ule as before. Our Socio-eco­nom­ic sta­tus has also been affect­ed. As a stu­dent, the pan­dem­ic has affect­ed me in my per­son­al devol­op­ment. Ideas and knowl­edge shar­ing among friends and prac­ti­cal expo­sure is restrict­ed due to con­tin­u­ous lockdown.

Kli­madel­e­ga­tion e.V.: How did you deal emo­tion­al­ly with the Covid-19-Situation?

Kavi­ta Khanal: The fear of coro­na is always dis­turb­ing men­tal­ly. So you feel the whole fam­i­ly is much affect­ed —  men­tal­ly and social­ly. We don’t feel secure or safe because oth­er peo­ple are not so aware or informed.

Pratik­shya Arya: To me it helped to share our joys and sor­rows with the fam­i­ly mem­bers as we are bound to family.

Lessons from Corona — Messages for the Future

Kli­madel­e­ga­tion e.V.:  What lessons should we learn from the Coro­na Cri­sis for fight­ing the Cli­mate Cri­sis  (col­lec­tive­ly and individually) ? 

Kavi­ta Khanal: Coro­na cri­sis has real­ly taught us how the envi­ron­ment or nature heals itself so quick­ly if we give it some time. 

It has shown us how bad­ly we have treat­ed nature so far. 

So we have to learn that our nature is beau­ti­ful and in fur­ther days we have to take care of it. We have to make envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly devel­op­ment work, take devel­op­ment and nature in par­al­lel. If we’ll take care of our sur­round­ing, it will take care of us.

I expect the gov­ern­ment to increase their invest­ments in health, pub­lic health and envi­ron­ment and also to bring out best agri­cul­tur­al plans. Peo­ple might have been encour­aged to do veg­etable gar­den­ing at their own. So I expect a prop­er atten­tion will be giv­en to health, envi­ron­ment and agriculture.

Sami­ta Ghimire: In the after­math of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, we should be pre­pared for fur­ther sim­i­lar virus out­breaks that are like­ly to occur due to cli­mate change. In order to pre­pare for such a sit­u­a­tion, we should focus equal­ly on cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures, in addi­tion to mea­sures to halt the cli­mate change process. We should make the pub­lic aware of the impact that the cli­mate cri­sis is like­ly to have on our dai­ly lives.

We humans must deal with cli­mate change in the same way as we dealt with the


We should also focus on a green econ­o­my by build­ing sus­tain­able and clean ener­gy sources to boost our economy.

Pratik­shya Aryal: The pan­dem­ic has exposed us to our mul­ti­ple short­com­ings and voids that need to be over­come or filled in the near future. There are many lessons to be learned, from the lack of pre­pared­ness or incom­pe­ten­cy of human kind to tack­le these kinds of unprece­dent­ed hav­ocs. It is alarm­ing to see how bad­ly the so-called “best crea­ture on earth” is per­form­ing. It strong­ly reminds us that life is unpre­dictable. I hope that this sit­u­a­tion will bring the whole world togeth­er and that a joint effort will be made to make the world a bet­ter place after the pan­dem­ic, where peo­ple can learn new and bet­ter ways of life. A stim­u­lus pro­gramme to accel­er­ate the tran­si­tion to renew­able ener­gy and a cli­mate-friend­ly project should also be planned in Nepal.

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