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Project July 23, 2020

Himalayan Communities Respond to the Threat of COVID-19

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What happens if the pandemic strikes a community of Himalayan highlanders? Secluded from Kathmandu and with no COVID-19 cases thus far, there is only one health assistant per health post in the remote valley of Nubri. Health infrastructure has always been inadequate in highland communities in Nepal.

In her COVID-19 journal, Tashi Lama highlights how stressed and scared she is due to the pandemic and lockdown. As concern grows about contacting outsiders, so does concern for high inflation, which has already occurred. Food grown at home is becoming more and more critical to survival. Except for the few people who own seasonal lodges, the people of Nubri are subsistence farmers—making inflation a major problem.

Even then, seeing stay-at-home as their best preventive approach, Nubribas [the people of Nubri] support the stay-at-home orders. Despite their positive attitudes, Tashi and other residents of Nubri are stuck in a waiting game, not knowing what the future will bring, but certain that the local health care system is ill-equipped to deal with a pandemic.

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