Thousands of people involved in the unorganized work sector have been severely affected by the coronavirus blockade.
Many of them who already lived a word of mouth now cannot support their families and depend on government relief to feed their families.
In Kathmandu and Lalitpur, city authorities, social organizations and local clubs have been feeding families living in deprivation by organizing food centers.
Elsewhere in Bharatpur, a city in Chitwan, the poor and unemployed have also been living on the relief provided by local governments and social organizations.
The national blockade, which was enforced on March 24, lasted until May 18.
Some economists have already warned that the situation for thousands of people who are now unemployed will only worsen if the government did not devise a plan to ease the blockade and jump-start the coronavirus-affected economy.
But even after the shutdown relaxes, the job prospects for many workers appear uncertain. For example, people who worked in the hospitality and tourism sector before closing may not get their jobs.
In light of the looming unemployment crisis, the federal government last week announced a job aid program. However, interested local governments, including the cities of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bharatpur, have yet to develop a plan on how the employment plan is implemented.
All three cities host large numbers of workers from the unorganized sector. Together, they distributed aid packages to around 120,000 families in the last month alone.
To include unorganized sector workers in the aid program according to the April 30 decision, the cabinet meeting, local governments say they need clear guidelines.
The federal government decision states that workers in the unorganized sector would be mobilized in public construction works, but it has not specified how local governments can implement this decision.
“We are waiting for concrete rules from the federal government to employ unemployed people,” Kathmandu city spokesman told Ishwor Man Dangol.
While the city is considering employing unorganized sector workers in the fields of forestry, sanitation, household wiring and construction, Dangols said they need federal guidelines to execute them.
The metropolitan city of Kathmandu has established a Rs100 million fund to combat the economic and pandemic aid package COVID-19 for poor and unorganized workers.
Officials of the Metropolitan City of Lalitpur have welcomed the federal government’s decision to employ people from the unorganized sector, but they are also undecided on how to launch the program. They expect the federal government to present the guidelines.
“There will probably be a discussion about it before the closure ends,” said Raju Maharjan, a city spokesman.
For now, the city office has been feeding informal sector workers, their families, and others in need through various food centers. As emergency aid, the city had distributed food packages to some 19,000 families in the first weeks of closure.
Meanwhile, the Bharatpur city office is preparing for the second phase of aid distribution. Here, too, officials are undecided about the implementation of the job-aid program.
“We still haven’t thought about how to run the help-by-job scheme. We plan to move forward according to the model prescribed by the federal government, ”said Arun Pidit Bhandari, a city spokesman.
While local governments await guidelines for implementing the program, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration is preparing to issue a working procedure for local governments in areas where they could create jobs for informal sector workers.
“We will suggest potential areas such as small irrigation projects, rural roads and sanitation, ensuring that they do not duplicate the activities of the Prime Minister’s Employment Program.” Basanta Adhikari, a spokesman for the federal affairs ministry, told the Post.
Various agencies under the federal government are also collecting details on potential jobs where unorganized sector workers could be employed.
The Ministry of Urban Development has recently presented a list of 840 potential jobs for workers in the unorganized sector.
Likewise, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has presented the areas where it could create jobs.