With large working-age populations and limited domestic employment opportunities, South Asian countries are a significant source of migrant labour. South Asia is the second-highest remittance-receiving region in the world, and this money sent back home by migrants plays a crucial role in poverty reduction and improving livelihoods of the households they support. Containment measures imposed in response to the pandemic in both destination and home countries have severely disrupted both the ability of migrants to work and the freedom of movement needed to enable them to return to their homes safely. Secondary impacts of COVID-19 are emerging, including labour shortages within cities that depend on migrant labourers, the stigmatisation of migrant workers who have returned to their home areas, the inability to access any form of social assistance due to lack of formal contracts, and longer-term mental and physical effects of the journey back to their homes.
Many migrant workers, most of them from Nepal, lost their employment when the Indian governmentimposed a strict lockdown on 25 March to contain the spread of COVID-19. With theeasing of the lockdown, 600,000 migrant workers are expected to return to Nepal in the coming weeks andmay weaken the effectiveness of Nepal’s COVID-19 mitigation measures. In March alone, around 500,000people crossed the border from India without any screening or other measures applied. The healthcare system will likely be put under significant stress as aconsequence of increased cases of COVID-19, and access to health serviceswill become more limited. The return of Nepalese migrants will put additionalpressure on an already overstretched healthcare system and will allow thevirus to spread even faster.
Heavy rainfall since 11 July has triggered flooding and landslides across south-eastern and central Nepal. Provinces 1, 2 and 3 are worst hit, with province 2 as the most severely affected area. An estimated 75,900 people have been displaced across the country. Shelter, WASH, health and food needs are reported. As of 16 July, 78 people have been killed, 32 people are missing, and 40 others have been injured. Flooding and landslides have blocked and damaged roads and bridges, hampering the humanitarian response.
Due to prolonged rainfall across Nepal from 11-14 August, 31 out of 75 districts have been affected by flooding and landslides. The southern Terai region has been particularly affected with an estimated 450,000 people affected by flooding and landslides. In this region 43 people were killed and an estimated 32,000 houses were damaged. Districts in central and eastern Terai have the highest reported impacts. Currently the impacts from flooding significantly outweigh those of landslides although the risk remains as rains persist and continue to hamper response efforts.