Social Welfare Council to ask international organisations to raise Covid-19 fundsOfficials aim to generate around Rs2 billion this time.
Prithvi Man Shrestha
The Social Welfare Council is set to request the headquarters of the international non-governmental organisations operating in Nepal for an enhanced support in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although the council, the regulatory body of non-governmental organisations in Nepal, has already asked the Nepal offices of the international non-governmental organisations and local non-governmental organisations to divert 5-20 percent of their funds towards Covid-19 response, the council decided to approach the head offices of the organisations directly to sensitise them to the pandemic situation in Nepal.
“We are preparing to write to the headquarters of the international relief organisations within the next 3-4 days asking them to give high priority to raising funds for Nepal,” Pushkar Khati, member-secretary at the council told the Post on Tuesday. “We decided to do this as per the recommendations of disaster relief experts.”
He said they plan to list Nepal’s urgent needs in the requests. “It will be a huge relief for us if they send medical goods such as oximeters, oxygen plants and ventilators besides raising funds for Nepal,” Khati added.
A representative of the international relief organisations operating in Nepal said that the council’s planned move is an international practice.
“This is a certain protocol in humanitarian practices that a call for international support from a host government is required to raise international funding,” said Janes Ginting, vice chairperson of Association of International NGOs in Nepal. “In this light, it is helpful. But, it does not mean it is mandatory for all the international NGOs because not all the international NGOs are able to raise new funds or to relocate their current funding,”
Amid record spikes in Covid-19 infections and deaths and shortage of medical supplies, the council had in the first week of May requested the domestic and international non-governmental organisations to divert some of their funds towards Covid-19 response.
As per the council’s notice of May 2, projects with approved budgets of up to Rs100 million have been requested to divert 15 percent of their budget towards Covid-19 response. Projects with budgets of up to Rs250 million have been asked to divert 10 percent while projects with budgets of up to Rs500 million and more than Rs500 million have been requested to allocate 7 percent and 5 percent to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
The council has said the diverted funds can be used in supplying medical goods and equipment, relief materials for the poor and in running small construction projects to employ the migrant workers who have returned to villages from the urban centres.
The council said several domestic and international non-governmental organisations have started diverting their funds towards Covid-19 relief while some have also brought new projects to fight the pandemic. According to Khati, as many as 16 domestic non-governmental organisations have already received approval from their donors for fund diversion while six international non-governmental organisations have proposed to either divert funds or new projects targeting Covid-19.
They have proposed supplying 2,000 oxygen cylinders, 1,500 oximeters, over 2,000 personal protective equipment, 2,000 infrared thermometers and five oxygen plants, according to the council.
According to Ginting, a group of several organisations have recently approved a joint proposal to buy medical supplies worth $1.5 million.
The World Vision Nepal, one of the leading international relief organisations, said it has decided to distribute 1,000 oxygen cylinders and other medical supplies to health institutions. “The World Vision plans to distribute 1,000 oxygen cylinders, some oxygen concentrators, personal protective equipment and thermometers this weekend, according to Ginting.
This is the second time since the pandemic that the council has asked the non-governmental organisations to divert their funds towards Covid-19 response. It had made a similar request to the organizations in April last year during the first wave of the pandemic..
According to the council, international organisations had spent Rs1.5 billion in donating health equipment and running livelihood programmes for those affected by the pandemic last year. Likewise, local non-governmental organisations had spent around Rs 270 million in pandemic relief last year.
“We aim to generate around Rs2 billion from domestic and international relief organisations this time,” said Khati.