As winter takes hold in the country, many Nepalis are concerned about the lack of warmth and shelter during the coldest months. A significant number of people, especially in the southern plains, live in homes made of mud and thatch roof, providing little insulation against the cold. This can lead to hypothermia and other serious health problems, particularly for the elderly and young children. Winter is challenging for those without proper roofs and enough warm clothes. The impact is more severe in the Terai, where cold waves annually claim lives. Despite being avoidable, the country has not been able to prevent these deaths and it is becoming a major threat to people's lives in the 23 districts of Terai, negatively affecting agriculture and livelihoods. The government has a responsibility to address these issues and ensure citizens have access to resources needed to survive during the winter, including emergency aid such as warm clothes, blankets, firewood, and essentials, especially for the poor and the marginalized.
It is tragic that people die due to the lack of warm clothes, with over four dozen deaths in the last five years alone. Cold waves disproportionately affect small children, the elderly, and women. The country lacks preparedness for the yearly adverse weather patterns, with around 125,000 Terai families affected annually, and these numbers are increasing. All three tiers of government must coordinate with each other in the preparedness efforts and establish community-level disaster management committees to identify populations at risk. With winter lasting at least three months and temperatures dropping significantly, the government at all levels must strive to help people live comfortably.
In this situation, local governments in particular can play an effective role due to their proximity to the people and their ground realities. They should conduct rapid needs assessments, identify vulnerable families, and provide relief to make citizens feel supported. Seeking help from local NGOs, civil society organizations, and charities can aid in distributing warm clothes and blankets. The private sector and NGOs also have a role in addressing winter challenges, providing aid and resources, and collaborating on sustainable solutions. Individuals can contribute by directly donating clothes and blankets to those in need or through established organizations. Let's all do our part to ensure all Nepalis stay comfortably warm in the cold weather conditions.