Thursday, 28 October, 2021
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OPINION

Hunger & Scarcity Hit Badi Community



Mahesh Nepali (Badi)

The world is now plagued by COVID-19. Nepal is also very much affected by this pandemic. The situation is likely to worsen further. Daily wage earners are now in a more difficult condition than others. If this situation continues, they may starve to death.
The Badi community is such a community that has no any other source of income except manual labour. This group is forced to live in extreme poverty. They are now unable to keep their hearth going owing to restrictive measures imposed to contain the virus spread.
They are in a state of confusion. About 97 per cent of people belonging to this community are failing to make a living as they are not involved in any kind of regular earning business, employment or profession. Under normal circumstances, they used to carry rice, pulses and vegetables in polyethylene bags for eating daily. But now they have nothing to eat. This means that there is a strong possibility of malnutrition among children due to lack of food.
They are worried whether they would die of starvation. In the same way, the Badi community people, who are living in the far-west Nepal, handed over a memorandum to the Chief Minister asking him to provide relief, rescue and rehabilitation. The government was also asked to issue licenses to Badi women to work as commercial sex workers if it failed to provide them with the basic humanitarian support. Hunger has led to mental disturbances among them.
Thus, one of the poorest, most vulnerable, oppressed and deprived community is on the verge of death due to famine in the time of COVID-19. It is ironic that the local, provincial and federal governments and various social organisations and political parties have not paid their due attention to this community.
The Badi Community Upliftment and Development Committee, formed by the Government of Nepal, must take the lead in resolving this issue. But government has not appointed officials to committee for long time.
It also has not even allocated budget for this committee for the last three years. Its office is there only as a showpiece. The committee is not functional. This is unfortunate for the Badi community. Some organisations have distributed relief in limited places.
The government has been saying that no one will fall in hunger and no one will die of hunger. But for Badi people, these promises appear to be false. The government must address the plight of this community. People from every class, caste, community and group have the right to survive even in any difficult situation like this. This is their inalienable right. It should be properly managed by the state, the government and its agencies.
It is the duty of the three tiers of government, political parties, media, human rights organisations, international donors and other stakeholders to ensure the right to life of the Badi community. They need immediate support for the survival.