Nepal small grant project, written by Sandeep Shahi, one of our International Working Group members, who implemented this grant through Youth RISE Nepal.

COVID 19 shook the world by affecting every individual and their livelihood. Although, as humanity still exists people have been helping each other with love, care and support. For decades people who use drugs have been stigmatized and discriminated against among their communities, in different parts of the world. In Nepal, a recent survey commissioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs, estimated that the number of people who use drugs in the country is 130,424, of which 76.2% are below the age of 30. There was significant spreading of COVID-19 in the main city of the country, and therefore was put under a strict lockdown, with people being deprived of food supplies and facing hard times as a result.

There was little support, as well as limited response from the government itself to this crisis, with institutions who intended to support those in need of food supplies during this time being prohibiyed from doing so, due to concerns from the government about social gatherings. People who use drugs are not even counted in the country, and faced many difficulties in managing their daily doses and were suffering without help, care and support in regards access to basic food supplies. The general population had been receiving help and support, while people who use drugs were being left out by their own communities.

During this period, an Emergency Response Team was formed within Youth RISE Nepal and started identifying and locating young people who use drugs who were having difficulties with daily food intake due to this strict lockdown. With the support from the Youth RISE Covid Small Grants Programme, the team were able to receive funds to distribute food supplies and sanitary supploes as emergency relief for 60 people who use drugs and their families as well as distributing to one rehabilitation center in a rural area where more than 40 people who use drugs were taking shelter.

On the 26th May 2020 a distribution program was conducted in close collaboration with local active young people from the Seven Street organization, in two major districts (Kathmandu, Lalitpur) with four different locations to people who inject drugs including people living with HIV/AIDS and their families. The major challenge was to distribute the relief supplies directly in the hotspots, but with strong coordination among receivers and with the regular planning meetings held among the core team, we were able to distribute relief supply packages directly to these different hotspots.

As COVID 19 continues to rapidly spread and high numbers of people are dying of the virus, the Government of Nepal are lacking resources to combat it, with the public themselves paying for all the expenses, including quarantine at hospitals (if required). Following the prevention measures and safety protocol, the team decided to implement a Phase II Emergency Relief Program where previous receivers would receive follow up food supplies. The team also reached out to clients under treatment of Oral Substitution Therapy at two different sites of two different districts. 

Youth RISE Nepal has continued to identify young people who use drugs in Nepal, and form strategies to effectively implement these programs. They do this through coordinating with various stakeholders and allies, and planning for the next effective ways to reach out to young people who use drugs to ensure their needs and necessities throughout this difficult period of time are met.