Globally, the pandemic has been considered as one of the most severe health and economic crises of the twenty-first century and Nepal has not been an exception. In the case of Nepal, with three waves of pandemic – one in 2020 and two in 2021 – accompanied by strict nationwide lockdown (Wave I), extended restrictions on business and travel activities during the second and third waves of the pandemic, Covid-19 stalled the country’s most key economic sectors, including business activities, hospitality, tourism and education among others.
Finally, as the pandemic subsides a bit in the recent months and more people are getting vaccinated. its positive impact on the country’s economy could be felt. For reference, ADB’s Sept 2021 Nepal Macroeconomic Update7 highlights some of the encouraging growth trends for Nepal. As per the updates, Nepal has been expected to have witnessed GDP expansion by 2.3 percent in FY 2021 after contracting by 2.1 percent the preceding year. For FY 2022, GDP is expected to expand to 4.2 percent. Similarly, inflation has moved around 3.6 percent in FY 2021, down from 6.2 percent the year earlier.
COVID-19 and its association with Smoking and Alcohol consumption
The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has engulfed the whole world and has affected every facet of human life. Researchers have scrambled to figure out the association of the virus with various lifestyle choices so as to limit the spread and mitigate its impact and develop a vaccine. Given that the COVID-19 virus is a new virus to infect human beings, many aspects of the virus remain unstudied. This is reflected in the changing guidelines issued by the WHO and health agencies such as CDC, who update those based on the new information to emerge from the research. The association of COVID-19 with smoking has been studied in some parts of the world, and the results have differed. The WHO stated that smokers were ‘more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, compared to a non- smoker. Meanwhile, other research found that smoking was not a factor related to the patients who had the diseases. This research aims to assess COVID-19 and its association with smoking and alcohol. Specifically, the research tested whether the prevalence and severity (if contacted) of COVID-19 among those who smoke and consume alcohol. It also analyzed the association of COVID-19 with socio-demographic factors and the health habits of people. Hence, this study adds value by researching the case in the context of Nepal.
Even after over a year of COVID-19 being announced as a pandemic, the pandemic’s onslaught continues to cast a dark shadow of uncertainty through concerted health, economic and humanitarian crisis playing out synchronously across the world. The COVID-19 crisis stands out for three reasons. First, the global economic recession that is unfolding as a result of the health emergency and containment measures is the worst since the Great Depression, 1929-1933. Second, there is uncertainty about the intensity, span, duration, and the ‘end-game’ of the pandemic. Third, the crisis is unusual in its combination of shocks on three simultaneous fronts: demand, supply, and financial intermediation, limiting the efficacy of a standard rulebook of stimulating aggregate demand during economic stagnation. In a nutshell, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains, shut or threatened the survival of small and informal enterprises, and made people highly vulnerable to falling back into poverty through widespread loss of income and jobs.
On Nepali Civil Society Organizations
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are often at the forefront of crisis and are the early responders. The important role these organizations play during the crisis has been well documented (Johnsen & Stedronsky, 2017; Kämpe, 2018; Wendelbo et al., 2016). The role of CSOs during all phases of the earthquake aftermath, starting from the search-and rescue efforts to the resilience-building stage is well known(NGO Federation of Nepal, 2016). The nature of COVID-19 is far different from the natural disasters or any other crises humanity had faced this century. Civil Society Organizations faced dual pressure during the crisis; first, the demand for their services and support increased substantially in the communities they served. Second, their physical mobility was hindered by the government imposed nationwide lockdown.
Governments' Response To COVID-19
The Assessment of Provincial Government’s Response to COVID-19 was undertaken by Foundation and Development Management (FDM) and Nepal Institute for Policy Research (NIPoRe) primarily to understand and critically look into how the seven provinces of Nepal have handled the COVID-19
pandemic. The study analyzed provincial governments’ emergency response policies, resources, mechanism and the effectiveness of the response. Moreover, the team also looked into the coordination between federal government, provincial government and local governments in handling the crisis and identified the challenges and the gaps experienced during the management.