Local government and corona fight

Editorial

Nepal’s fight against coronavirus appears to be successful going by the count of the people infected, isolated, treated and recovered. The number of those found infected has been 41 so far with reportedly milder symptoms. Four of those diagnosed as infected have been tested negative which means that they have survived fight against the deadly virus. Though the number of the infected may increase in the days to come, combat against the virus is being managed successfully. The success in containing the virus and preventing it from making an invasive foray into larger rural communities has been appreciated from all quarters.

The people did reportedly face hunger and harassment while commuting for many days along the way to cover long distance. In fact, sub-national entities especially local government, civil society and media have witnessed and brought to fore sufferings and the pains of the people returning to their home to unite with their families at this time of difficulty. These agencies prevailed upon the central authorities to humanise, relax and liberalise blanket approach executed to enforce lockdown. Following cautious and selective relaxation of lockdown provisions specifically targeted to salvage the stranded people, local governments have come forward to extend support to the people to fetch them to their destinations by arranging meals, accommodation and transportation.
Behind the success of Nepal’s fight against Covid-19, credit should definitely go to the active role of local governments- recognised and entrenched as important sphere in the constitution of Nepal at par with state (Pradesh) and federal government. However, there is a need to strengthen them to address their institutional, technical and administrative capacity deficits to make them more functional and effective pursuant to the transformative promise of the federal constitution.

Despite the lockdown, some people are still venturing out into the streets without realising that the lockdown is meant for their own safety and that the government has not enforced the lockdown at whim. The COVID-19 is a contagious disease. So social/physical distancing is of paramount importance in preventing the spread of the disease. Therefore, the people should maintain discipline and follow the required preventive protocol.
In the meantime, the government has started distributing relief materials among the hard-hit people like daily wage-earners and other labourers who have not been able to go to work during the lockdown to earn a living. It is a commendable gesture on the part of the government to take the initiative. However, the government should look for and identify the destitute and needy that really deserve government support at this hour of crisis. The local governments can play a supportive role in this regard.

The country aims at graduating to the status of developing country by 2022 and becoming a middle-income country by 2030. But the disruption of the economy has created obstructions on the path to development and prosperity goals. The aforementioned goals may be adversely affected unless effective and robust steps are taken in time. Therefore, the government should accentuate infrastructure and other development projects to rectify the disequilibrium in the economy engendered by the deadly disease. After all, the performance and efficiency of the government can be best gauged during and after an emergency such as the present one.

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