Study: 70% of low-income households consumed less food during the Covid-19 pandemic

A woman is standing with her child in one hand and helping in another hand Mehedi Hasan / Dhaka Tribune

These households, however, expressed their satisfaction with the government’s response.

Food security has been greatly compromised in low-income households in Bangladesh amid the Covid-19 pandemic so far, with 40% of households struggling to have three meals a day and 70% of households consuming less food than they ate regularly. before, says a study.

The results of the study, conducted by the Center for Peace and Justice (CPJ) at Brac University, mainly focusing on informal workers, ready-to-wear workers, repatriated migrant workers and low-income urban groups, were shared Tuesday in a discussion.

During the discussion, CPJ Executive Director Manzoor Hasan and lead researchers Dr Sanaul Mostafa and Dr Shahidul Islam said urban informal workers and return migrants suffered the most during the pandemic.

“Low-income people have lost a third of their income compared to the pre-pandemic period. Food security was greatly compromised as 40% of households had difficulty having three meals a day, 70% ate less food and 87% reduced their protein intake, ”they said, citing the study. .

The study, titled “Covid-19 – Livelihoods Crisis, Social Cohesion Challenges and Mitigation Options: An Empirical Study”, was conducted between November and December last year in the Dhaka region.

Low Income Groups Satisfied With Government Response

The study also found that the labor share of women has seen a drastic increase, with the workload rising from 18% at the end of 2019 to 53% during the pandemic.

Low-income households have expressed satisfaction with the government’s response to the pandemic while having doubts about their ability to control this in the future.

The researchers had pointed out that 70% of workers affected by the pandemic expected the government to help them recover from their economic loss.

Key questions

Dr Yameen Mazumder, senior program specialist at the James P Grant School of Public Health at Brac University, noted that managing the lockdown is perhaps the most important issue facing the pandemic. .

“The balance between the application of the lockdown and the needs of individuals needs to be better understood,” he said.

Emphasizing that violence against women has increased alarmingly during the pandemic, ActionAid Bangladesh Country Director Farah Kabir said: “In the midst of the pandemic, different dimensions of gender-based violence (GBV). Women who had not experienced gender-based violence earlier have become the new victims, and child marriage has also increased; these issues should have been considered.

Guest speaker Sudipto Mukherjee, the resident representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), said CPJ’s report was released at a time when the national budget discussion is ongoing. Development agencies, the state, the private sector, and academia, among others, can work together to find appropriate solutions amid the pandemic.

Monjoor Morshed, Head of Strategy and Planning at the Bidyanondo Foundation, highlighted the role of community organizations in creating a working model that will directly support those affected.

“Organizations like the Bidyanondo Foundation have focused on the needs of the population and raised funds to ensure that financial support goes directly to those who need it most while minimizing overhead costs,” he said. he adds.

Dr Nazneen Ahmed, Principal Investigator at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, also said: “While the majority of recommendations made on the ready-to-wear sector were aimed at the government, there could be a few simple recommendations regarding what could be requested from civil society organizations or other private actors. ”

She stressed: “For reasons of social justice, laid-off workers should have access to underutilized donor funds. “

Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Brac and Chairman of the Center for Research on Power and Participation, said: political. “

He stressed that credible research is one way to inform policymakers about the voices of vulnerable groups, including the “new poor”, who have emerged during the pandemic.

Julio V. Miller

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