Covid-19 hits remittances, drives Nepali families to hunger

by Akeem Alao

Coronavirus has hit the remittance package in Nepal as families complain about hunger and job loses, following the lockdown directive in the country.

The Covid-19 pandemic has battered the country’s economy and sent millions of workers out of jobs, leaving them unable to take care of their families.

According to official report, not less than 56 percent of Nepal’s estimated 5.4 million households rely on remittances that are a vital lifeline for families with no other source of income.

“Remittances totalled $8.1bn last year, or more than a quarter of Nepal’s gross domestic product, but are likely to drop 14 percent in 2020 because of the global recession caused by the virus, as well as a fall in oil prices,” the World Bank says.

Millions of Nepali migrants work in the oil-rich Gulf countries and Malaysia.

Remittances are essential for lower-middle-class Nepali families that have moved to city centres and rely on them to pay for rent, groceries, school fees and utilities, said analyst Ganesh Gurung.

“Without remittances, these families will get poorer, and crimes like human trafficking and prostitution could rise,” said Gurung, an expert on migrant issues at the Nepal Institute of Development Studies think-tank.

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