PARYA SAMPADA mobilizing Bungamati Community to produce Protective Face Masks for the Communities

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In the fight against the pandemic of COVID 19 Government of Nepal imposed nationwide lockdown until April 7. As the crisis started there was scarcity of face masks and sanitizers in the market. In response, there are several initiatives to produce masks at local level by various organizations. However, many of such masks are not up to the quality while availability remain a big question. UN-Habitat along with the implementing partners of the SWITCH Asia Programme under EU support is trying to come up to contribute to ease the situation. It has two aspects- a) contribute to reduce the scarcity in its project areas and beyond; b) create job for the local communities particularly home-based working women. We are exploring four items for the time being- a) face masks, b) hand sanitizers, c) cooked food supply; and d) PPE. UN-Habitat and partners interacted with health workers of Patan Hospital to standardize the products. The first item already started producing by the women workers is face mask. Special feature is the mask using non-fabric cotton in-between which can be changed once contaminated. Lalitpur Metropolitan City, Ward No 22, approached the team for the masks to distribute in the communities. The community workers trained in stitching and sewing took this opportunity and produced 500 units on the first day. SABAH-Nepal is leading the work with twelve women from Bungamati and this can be expanded as per the demand. Of its 600+ workforce now will be mobilized for other items of need. Lumanti, the other partner is ready to mobilize its women cooperative network for similar jobs. They are now focusing on supporting the most needy urban poor families in slum settlements and provide support. As a preparedness planning, UN-Habitat is also working with the partners in producing the required PPE materials which are required in the response measures if the outbreak continues.