COVID-19 crisis causes inadequate food consumption and food insufficiency among households in Nepal

WFP in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has published a survey report on the Impact of COVID-19 on Households in Nepal. This is the second round of the mVAM Household Survey conducted in August 2020. First round of the survey was conducted in April 2020. The survey report reveals that food insecurity across the country has decreased slightly compared to April 2020; however it remains higher than 4 years ago. According to the report 20.2 percent of the households had inadequate food consumption and 4.7 percent of households had poor dietary diversity. Overall, 11.8 percent of households adopted at least one negative coping strategy to address food shortages and about 6.7 percent of households reported that the food they had in stock was insufficient to meet their needs.

As per the report, in the first round of mVAM Household Survey conducted in April 2020, 23.2 percent of households had inadequate diet. Similarly, 7.2 percent of households had poor dietary diversity and around 45.9 percent of children between 6-23 months of age did not meet minimum dietary diversity in April.

Survey findings reveal that Sudurpaschim and Karnali provinces have the highest proportion of food insecure households, with 23.8 and 23.3 percent households consuming inadequate diet respectively. Similarly, inadequate food consumption was also relatively high in Province 2, 22.1 percent.

Report reveals that the COVID-19 crisis has continued to negatively impact livelihoods of Nepalese households, with 11 percent of households reporting job loss and 31.2 percent a reduction in income. Income reduction was the highest in Province 1 (40.5%), followed by Sudurpaschim (38.8%) and Province 2 (38.3%).

Overall, job loss and income reduction caused by the COVID-19 crisis affected household food security: inadequate food consumption and food insufficiency were more common among households that reported job loss and income reduction, compared to households that did not experience job loss and income reduction.

More than 20 percent of the respondents of the survey said that increase in food price were their major concern during the COVID-19 crisis, followed by shortage of food (16.3%), reduction in income (15.5%) and lack of work opportunities (14.8%).

The second round of the nation-wide household survey of its kind confirms continued pressure on food security, livelihoods and incomes of Nepalese households.

World Bank’s US$10.85 Million additional grant to support education sector in Nepal

The Government of Nepal and the World Bank signed a financing agreement for an additional grant of US$10.85 million to the School Sector Development Program (SSDP) to maintain access to basic education and continued learning for children amid the COVID-19 crisis. The government’s SSDP is a sector-wide program supported by IDA credit of US$185 million, together with support from Asian Development Bank, European Union, Finland, Global Partnership for Education (GPE), Japan International Cooperation Agency, Norway, USAID, UNICEF and REACH Multi-Donor Trust Fund administered by the World Bank. The program aims to improve the quality, equitable access, and efficiency of basic and secondary education in Nepal. As per World Bank Nepal, The additional grant from the GPE COVID-19 Accelerated Funds will contribute to the implementation of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology’s COVID-19 contingency plan to mitigate and respond to the potential impacts of the pandemic on the education sector. The agreement was signed by the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Shreekrishna Nepal on behalf of the Government of Nepal and by the World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Mr. Faris Hadad-Zervos..

‘Sales of Energy’-An Upcoming Challenge

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) celebrates 35 years of its service of power production, transmission and distribution. NEA claims the year 2019/20 as one more successful year in supplying continuous power to its consumers and maintaining sound financial health. After tumultuous years of losses NEA is now a profit making organization since 2016/17. Its system loss has come down to 15.27% from 25.78% in 2016. According to annual report of NEA for the year 2019/20 total population with access to electricity infrastructure has reached 86% of the total household. Total number of electricity consumers increased by 7.8% from 3.91 million to 4.22 million during 2019/20. These data does not include consumers under community rural electrification, which is serving about 0.57 million consumers in rural areas. Among the entire electricity consumers domestic consumers share the largest category with 93.24% share. Industrial consumer has a share of just 1.33% but has the highest share of 45.31% in revenue generation and 35.83% as sales share. Domestic consumer has 35.27% and 44.34% share in revenue and sales.

Two new power plants, namely Upper Trishuli 3A (60 MW) and Kulekhani III (14 MW) is added to the system contributing an increase in electricity generation. NEA’s hydropower plants including small power stations generated a total of 3021 GWh of electricity in FY 2019/20. It is an increase by 18.57% over the generation of 2548 GWh in FY 2018/19. There was a decrease of 38.55% energy import from India, 1729 GWh in 2019/20 and 2813.07 GWh in 2018/19. The contribution of energy imported from India contributed 22.33% out of total available energy. Total installed capacity of NEA is 1332 MW, including 14 major hydropower stations (563.15 MW), 17 small hydro power plants (14.244 MW), 23 small hydro power plants (isolated) (4.536 MW), 2 thermal power plants (53.41 MW) and 3 solar power plants (1350 kW).

According to reports from various directorates of NEA, Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown hampered in its regular growth. The effect of the lockdown has caused lesser revenue from the industrial sector.

 Since 2016/17 there was continuous decrease in load shedding. Before this we were forced to live in darkness with hours of load shedding. During the last four years Nepal has seen brighter times, helping countries economy to go forward. At the same time, it has also helped a great deal in saving valuable foreign currency reserve of the country which has been used to import batteries, inverters, solar panels and additional fossil fuels for generators.

As per the report, fulfilling the energy demand was the biggest challenge of NEA in the past. As per current status sale of energy is going to pose a serious challenge for NEA in coming year as 1000 MW of generation is to be commissioned by the year 2021 alone.