Newsletter April 2020

Dear Friends,

We hope you are well in these challenging times. Across the world, COVID-19 is having a negative influence on societies at large as well as local communities. Nepal is in a total lockdown while Kenya and the European countries we are present in have enforced very strict measures to combat the virus.

Even though the current environment creates challenges for Human Practice teams, we are still working hard to help the children and the local communities. As an organization, we stand together to get through this crisis in the best way possible.

Naturally, our activities have been impacted; In Denmark, the second phase of Project Inner Strength has been postponed as the schools are closed. Below you can read more about the situation in Nepal and Kenya, how it affects our projects and how we are working to help the local communities.

The situation in Nepal and Kenya

In Nepal and Kenya, the governments have issued either a complete lockdown or very strict measures. Although none of the countries have many confirmed cases of COVID-19, they are in the high-risk zone due to the inadequate capacity of the healthcare system and the poverty prevailing in both countries.

At the time of writing this newsletter, in Kenya, there have been 216 confirmed cases and 9 deaths. All schools have been closed since the 15th of March. The government has enforced a curfew from 7 pm to 5 am and urged everyone to work from home if possible. Nairobi has been closed down with no one allowed to enter or leave the city. In the Meru County where we are present, the outlook of a potential COVID-19 epidemic is daunting. The county is poor, and most people have to leave their house in order to get food on the table for their families. Most people are working on large farms or flower plantations, which have been shut down for the time being, sending many locals into unemployment and uncertainty. The county has a population of 1.5 million, but only 6 ICU beds and 4 respirators. The healthcare system does not have the capacity to withstand an epidemic like this if it hits the Meru county.

In the words of HPF Country Manager Patriciah Muigai: “Most of the homesteads do not have running water. They rely on a community borehole, water well or rivers. During this time, they have improvised a washing facility out of a 5-liter jerrican on a makeshift foot pedal. Soap is a luxury in many homes as other priorities take precedence. Handwashing and sanitizing is not a norm but now communities have embraced it at homes and even at the local market”.

In Nepal, there have been 16 confirmed cases with no deaths thus far. The complete lockdown was issued on the 23rd of March and schools started closing at the beginning of March. Nepal is trying to prepare the healthcare system for a potential epidemic and is setting up quarantine centers around the country. Nepal canceled the ‘Visit Nepal 2020’ campaign, that has been a big investment and priority for the country. Nepal is facing a massive downturn in tourism, which is the second largest industry in Nepal. This will have a huge negative impact on the country and potentially send millions of people out in unemployment. The Taplejung district is completely closed but people are allowed to work in their fields, making it possible for them to secure food for their families and care for their coffee plants for the coming coffee production as part of the HPF Coffee Impact Project.

As our HPF Country Manager Shiva Rayamajhi describes it: “Finding sanitizers in the countryside of Taplejung is almost impossible. In the country, 38% of households have no access to toilets and defecate openly, 85% of the population do not have access to water supply and 35% of rural people wash hands only with water or do not wash hands, the obvious thing is that people have got poor hygiene and sanitation. The situation of poor families is even worse as they have to fight for their hand-to-mouth issues for survival and the lockdown has turned them from breadwinners to relief seekers. Whilst the parents residing in the urban areas do engage their children with multiple choices of web-based educational sites and applications, the parents of Taplejung do not know these provisions, and lack of electricity and internet makes this out of reach. The obvious choice for children is to work at household chores and farms or to play.”

Students using the homemade washing facility

Human Practice Projects

Due to the circumstances in Nepal and Kenya, we have been forced to put project activities on hold for now.

In Nepal, our local project team of 30 employees has been sent home, but are all eager to get back to the schools and implement the project activities. In unity, all employees have collectively accepted a reduced salary while the projects are on hold.

From home, our Education Team is planning the upcoming workshops and implementation of their activities to continue their work on improving the quality of education at 33 HPF-schools. Our engineers are now designing the next school buildings and we are working on the project planning for our new health program supported by the World Diabetes Foundation. The ongoing school constructions are currently in phases that will not harm the construction if we cannot progress before the monsoon. Though we cannot implement projects at the moment we are using this situation in the best way possible to plan ahead.

In Kenya, the situation is similar. We are happy to have our own team in Kenya now. With the travel restrictions, we have an HPF presence on the ground. In Kenya, the team is working on registering Human Practice Foundation as an INGO in Kenya. We are also working on the contracts and designs for the first school construction implemented directly at the school by our team.

HPF Corona Initiatives

As described, the COVID-19 situation is creating huge challenges in Nepal and Kenya, with additional potential adverse consequences looming in the future. Therefore, we are looking for funding to initiate programs in the Meru county and Taplejung District to help combat the virus, by initiating sanitary programs focusing on facilities as well as awareness-raising and training for our students.

In Nepal, we are already constructing toilets and working with sanitation programs supported by the Jochnick Foundation and the Rambøll Foundation and will include COVID-19 moving forward. In Kenya, we will implement a similar program with toilet constructions and awareness workshops.

We believe these initiatives will help prevent the negative consequences of a potential health crisis in Meru and Taplejung. Please let us know if you are interested in supporting these initiatives or want to hear more.