Bardiya’s poor are starving while the local unit has been slow to distribute reliefAccording to data by the ward office, around 200 daily wage earners in the ward have been severely affected by the lockdown.
On Friday, 30-year-old Sushila Pasi, a roadside food vendor, went to the office of ward number 6 in Gulariya Municipality to seek help. With the nationwide lockdown in place for nearly a month to control the spread of Covid-19, Pasi’s business has come to a halt. She had not eaten anything for the past two days and had fed her one-and-a-half-years-old toddler food that was provided by her neighbours. Her husband, who is in Mihipuruwa of India for work, has yet to return.
Once at the office, Pasi, a mother of four, couldn’t contain herself and broke down. The elected representatives at the office consoled her and gave her rations that would last her for a few days.
“We have not had enough to eat since the lockdown began,” she said. “The neighbours helped us for a few days but we couldn’t always ask them for food.”
According to data by the ward office, around 200 daily wage earners in the ward have been severely affected by the lockdown. Sudhamshu Sharma, the ward chair, said those people are struggling to subsist while the municipality has been late to distribute relief material.
The municipality had asked for a written letter from relief expectants. But the number of those asking for relief exceeded the municipality’s estimation. Mayor Muktinath Yadav said on close inspection, the local unit found that many of those who are well-off have also filed letters asking for relief.
“We have launched an investigation to select those who are the most vulnerable,” Yadav said. “We are working closely with ward offices to identify those who are in dire need of relief.” The municipality plans to distribute 25kgs of rice, two kgs of lentil grains, one kg of salt, two litres of cooking oil and two soap bars to each family.
Yadav said that the relief distribution will start once the most vulnerable families are identified. But people like Pasi have expressed frustration that the local unit has been too slow to act.
“We don’t know how long the lockdown will continue,” Pasi said. “And for how long we would have to spend nights in hunger.”
Photo: Sushila Pasi at ward-6 office with her toddler.