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.
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.