Producing masks and sanitizers
As the threat of coronavirus pandemic is looming, some local governments have stepped up efforts to produce face masks and hand sanitizers of which the residents across Nepal have faced acute shortage already. It is months since these two vital items to protect oneself from possible infection stopped being available in the market. Apart from black marketing, scarcity of these items is the result of our dependence on countries like China and India wherefrom we import them. It seems things are slowly changing. Earlier this month, Lalitpur Metropolitan City announced that it would manufacture face masks which could be bought for five to seven rupees. More recently, Lalitpur, in collaboration with Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), has announced to manufacture hand sanitizers. They have already produced sample of homemade alcohol-based sanitizers. The plan, we are told, is to teach people themselves how to manufacture sanitizers by using local alcohol. Sanitizer to be thus manufactured will contain 75-80 percent alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, glycerol and distilled water. Apparently, Lalitpur is training two persons from each ward to make sanitizers.
The initiative of Lalitpur Metropolitan City has been inspiring. Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City has started the production of sanitizers in coordination with the Central Campus of Technology, Hattisar. They plan to distribute the sanitizers in the region. Likewise, leaders of social organizations will also be trained to produce such hand sanitizers. The sub-metropolitan city has provided necessary raw materials to produce hand sanitizers. Good thing is hand sanitizer is being produced as per the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO). Needless to say, Lalitpur Metropolitan City and Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City have set the best example. Their efforts to produce essential items like masks and sanitizers are laudable for multiple reasons.
First, it shows what a local government can do during the times of crisis. Often the local governments tend to look up to the federal government for almost everything and do not take the initiatives even for things which they themselves can accomplish independently. These two local governments have come out of this dependence syndrome. Second, it demonstrates that the local governments are capable of exploring alternatives and innovations. And third, and the most important, they have shown that local governments should be accountable to people. Producing hand sanitizers and masks may be a small initiative but it goes a long way in alleviating problems faced by people during the times of global pandemic. During these difficult times, every individual and institution, from federal to local spheres, has the responsibility to take up measures for preparedness and prevention of coronavirus pandemic. This is also an opportunity for the local governments to prove their indispensableness by serving the people. They can mobilize their members and officials to raise awareness regarding preventive measures and, as the first point of contacts, can even facilitate quarantine of infected people, if the situation so demands. Lalitpur Metropolitan City and Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City have shown the way. Other local governments have things to learn from them and do much more.