Wednesday, 19 June, 2024

Children doubly affected by COVID-19 and lockdown

File Photo

Kathmandu, Nov. 20: COVID-19 pandemic has a took a tole on Sunita Shrestha, aged 18, Madhyapur Thimi Municipality, Bhaktpur, a plus-two student, as she could not continue her students in lack of appliances to connect with online study and has to work as a domestic worker to raise her family of two.

She was raised by Lila Shrestha, aged 68, a domestic worker. However, elderly Lila got COVID-19 and could not continue with her job because of which Sunita, had to come to saving and start to work as a domestic worker.

Sunita said, “I was worried that I could not continue studies and has to work lifelong as a domestic worker, but, now school is resuming. This gives me hope that I go back to school and can pull myself and grandmother from this poverty.”

However, not everyone is lucky enough to go back to school. Rakesh Sharma (name changed) had to pull out of school as his parents lost their job.

He said, “We are in such a situation where the food on the table is our priority rather than going to school. I am hoping that my brother and sister could not go through the same faith so I am also working to make some money and contribute to the family.”

These are only the child representatives who faced the double effect of COVID-19 and lockdown. COVID-19 and lockdown did not only affect children’s education, but, due to strain in family income, children have to indulge in employment, and suffer from various mental and emotional pressure as well.

The household survey of UNICEF Nepal’s Child and Family Tracker (CFT) on the impact of COVID-19 on families with children has revealed a stark loss of earnings and livelihoods among half of the households with children surveyed. The survey has been collected periodically since the start of the pandemic.

As per the survey, COVID-19 and lockdown have a double impact on children in limiting their access to education, health services, nutritious food, and safety. The negative household coping mechanisms owing to the stress and unemployment amid COVID-19 have resulted in increases in early marriage, child labor, and other forms of child exploitation. The anxieties and pressures associated with the pandemic have also further increased the incidence of violence against children and women, as well as the previously high levels of mental health concerns for children.

“COVID-19 pandemic has been a severe blow on the stride made on child rights for over decades. The post-pandemic period has been heavy for children limiting their access to education, a nutritious diet, health care, and overall their rights to utilize child right,” said Ram Bahadur Chand, Spokesperson of the National Child Right Council (NCRC).

Many children that pulled out from poverty and child labor have high chances to go back to child labor and be pulled out from school due to lack of financial security. Another big concern is runaway children, who are mostly found to be involved in child labor, said Spokesperson Chand, while adding that there is a high risk of children running away from home because of abuse, domestic violence, and poverty in-home, He added.

“We have observed that many adolescent girls and boys run away and indulge in child marriage and early pregnancy. Even during the lockdown, many children ran away from home, of whom, adolescents were recorded to be highest in number, who ran away for employment and romantic indulgence. This is a serious concern regarding child health and child rights,” said Spokesperson Chand.

Therefore, Nepal is also marking World Children Day by assessing the impact of lockdown and COVID-19 on children.

To mark World Children Day today, Nepal is celebrating Children’s Day of this year by illuminating the blue light in historic monuments Rani Pokhari and Dharahara, while assessing the impact of lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic on children.