Ashwin Rasaili, 29 who used to work as a porter in the Mt. Everest base camp lost his job due to the COVID pandemic. Before COVID, he used to earn approx. 5 lakhs during the peak season depending on the expedition group, but now sudden declining of the tourists, not only halted the country’s economy but also livelihood of the people like Rasaili.
Rasaili has altogether 9 siblings and parents. He opted for trekking profession due to the poor economic condition. Because of the economic immobility, his family is also not being able to make enough money with their family business. However, the short-term employment opportunities provided by the UNDP and the Thulung Dhudhkoshi Rural Municipality has eased his problem. “Now, I have no fear of dying of starvation. Apart from the job opportunity in this pandemic, we are glad that we are assisting for the village road development”, said Rasaili.
“The youths will be encouraged further if such projects are launched. Such projects can decelerate the rate of going abroad for menial jobs. We are really overwhelmed and indebted to the people and organizations who thought about us and came with this project to mitigate our misery level”, he added
Sarita Rai, co-worker also added that, the construction work has not only supported the livelihood but also improved the roadway of their area for easy transportation. “Because of the muddy trail, ambulance and other vehicles such as small trucks and tractors had to halt their services for at least 4 months every year and now, with this road construction, there won’t be inaccessibility problem and people at least don’t have to die for not getting an ambulance service. Additionally, the constructed road will also reduce the cost of the goods to a large extent. It has brought happiness from all possible ways” she said.
In the project there are also construction workers like, Migma Sherpa, who migrated to Solukhumbu just to work in the project. He is originally from Okhaldhunga district but to get the short-term job and feed family he travelled to Solukhumbu. “I wish this type of job will be available in all places, so that we can work in our own place, earn decent money and simultaneously contribute to our own village.” Said Sherpa
This ongoing project include the construction of “Kangel road” that touches Thulung Dhudhkoshi Rural Municipality-4 of 600 km. As the quality of road connection is bad, the movement of people and vehicle has become difficult throughout the year. Considering this inaccessibility issue, the UNDP and the local government has been working together to upgrade the road. Altogether, 55 workers are working in the project site where 120 people are directly benefited and other 4000 local community will be indirectly benefited. Likewise, other three road construction programs are also on-going in the same municipality.
Thanking UNDP for its financial support, Mr. Ashim Rai, the Chairman of the Rural Municipality, said,“ it is a massive moral and financial support to the people of Solukhumbu in this pandemic which has helped create job opportunities and support their livelihood.”
The recent assessment by UNDP on the socio-economic impact assessment on the COVID 19 shows that, temporary workers, internal migrants, day laborers were amongst the most vulnerable based on income, and their ability to sustain through the slowdown. Seasonal and informal workers who represent 60 percent of the labor force face job cuts and losses.
UNDP’s livelihoods recovery programme, co-funded by both the Royal Thai and Nepal Governments, aims to engage over 5000 women and men — especially the poor, vulnerable daily wage earners and migrant workers — in short-term manual work through small-scale community and tourism infrastructure projects led by the communities themselves.
Story by: Pemba Thile Sherpa, UNDP/CILRP team Photo by: Lhakpa Sherpa