Nepal adopted a federalist constitution in 2015, and less than five years later this new system faced a major catastrophe—COVID-19. In this insightful paper, Sigdel, Kharel and Ng’ong’a investigate how the new local governments coped with the pressure of this global cataclysm, through 66 in-depth interviews with officials and analysis of health management system data.
The authors highlight the role of Nepalese local government leadership in emergency management and explores its readiness to respond to disaster, especially given the new governance structures implemented by this emerging democracy.
Their findings point to strong local leadership and relatively resilient systems that were pushed almost to breaking point. The authors provide insights for other low-and-middle income countries by identifying potential opportunities and areas of improvement when responding to disaster at a local government level, including capacity building for local leaders with a focus on human resource management in emergency contexts, and the simplification of public procurement processes to improve response times.
Photo credit: A health worker carries COVID-19 test samples to the laboratory in Sukraraj hospital, Teku, Nepal in 2021. © Save the Children