Hardships increase as mercury dips

  • winter blues
- Post Report, Kathmandu
Cold facts- In Siraha, Saptari and Rautahat, the number of people suffering from cold-related diseases has increased in recent days- Cold wave last winter had claimed as many as 22 lives in different districts in the Tarai region- Those affected by the April earthquake are bracing for deadly winter, with the shaky structures they are living in hardly offering any protection against the bone-chilling winds- A UN OCHA community feedback report for November found that 71 percent of 1,400 respondents did not feel prepared for winter in 14 quake-affected districts - Cloudy conditions in the eastern region expected in the next few days and rain is likely to bring temperatures further down

Dec 20, 2015-A dip in the mercury for more than a week now has started to affect life across the country, with temperatures in highlands dropping to near freezing and a thick fog blanketing the Tarai region. 

According to the Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD), minimum temperatures in Jumla and Jiri were recorded at -6.6 and -2.1 degrees Celsius on Friday, while in the Tarai region, a blanket of thick fog restricted visibility, affecting vehicular movement. 

With cold wave soon to sweep the Tarai, people are bracing for more hardships in coming days. Every year during winter, people suffer from severe cold due to lack of proper clothing, shelter and nutrients. According to reports from Siraha, Saptari and Rautahat, the number of people suffering from cold-related diseases has increased in recent days. Bacterial and viral infections like cold, cough and flu easily make people ill during winter as body works harder to balance internal temperature, resulting in weakened immunity. 

Considering the cold conditions, the District Disaster Relief Committee (DDRC) in Siraha has said it is preparing to distribute around 2,000 blankets to those who are considered the most vulnerable. People from the poor and disadvantaged communities are worst affected by cold conditions in the Tarai. Siraha Chief District Officer Man Bahadur Bishwokarma said the DDRC would identify the vulnerable settlements in six municipalities and village development committees in the district within a week. “Pregnant women, differently-abled people, children and the elderly will be our priority,” said Bishwokarma. The authorities will also manage bonfires in different places for the locals, added Bishwokarma. Cold wave last winter had claimed as many as 22 lives in different districts in the Tarai region.

In city areas, smog enveloping the city becomes a familiar sight, but it could pose a threat to human health. Respiratory disorders during winter due to rising pollution are common complaints of city dwellers. 

Those affected by the April earthquake make another vulnerable group, with the shaky structures they are living in hardly offering any protection against the bone-chilling winds that lash the regions where their temporary shelters have been built. 

A community feedback report on humanitarian response for November prepared by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that 71 percent of 1,400 respondents did not feel prepared for winter in 14 districts that were most affected by the earthquake. 

The government’s failure to spend a $4.1 billion reconstruction fund has forced thousands of earthquake victims to brace for a harsh winter without proper clothes, shelter and bedding. After around eight months of political bickering, Parliament only on Wednesday passed the Reconstruction Authority Bill, paving the way for the formation of the Reconstruction Authority to oversee the reconstruction work, which will take some more time to take off. 

According to the weather office, there will be cloudy conditions in the eastern region in the next few days and rain is likely to bring temperatures further down. A gradual drop in temperatures will continue for the next few days, said the MFD. 

Published: 20-12-2015 09:16

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