Bangladesh poor experience 80pc drop in income for coronavirus

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:10, Apr 17,2020 | Updated: 22:48, Apr 17,2020


The average income of the urban slum dwellers and the rural poor has dropped by more than 80 per cent following the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, according to a survey report.

A total of 63 per cent of such population, including day labourers, bhangari workers, restaurant workers, maids, transport workers, agriculture labourers, construction and factory workers, petty businessmen, shop assistants and rickshaw pullers became economically inactive during the time, the survey findings indicated.

Some 40 per cent of poor population and 35 per cent vulnerable non-poor have already reduced their food consumption to cope with the situation, the survey conducted by Power and Participation Research Centre and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development found.

‘Food insecurity has started with nutritional decline but crisis to be intensified by end-April,’ the finding said recommending for a Tk 5,600 immediate package for one month food security support for the poor.

An additional package would be required for the new poor, it said.

PPRC and BIGD jointly conducted the rapid response survey on poverty impact of COVID-19 on 5,471 households at urban slums and rural areas from April 4 to April 12.

The research organisations on Thursday released the key findings of the survey conducted over the phone. 

It said that COVID-19 impact was on both the poor and the ‘new poor’.

The new poor are those who used to be 40 per cent above the poverty line but now has gone below the poverty line, it said.

According to the report, per capita income of the urban slum dwellers dropped by 82 per cent to Tk 27 during the survey week from Tk 108 in February while per capita income of the rural poor declined by 79 per cent to Tk 33 in that week from Tk 89 in February.

Income of people living in lower poverty line, upper poverty line and vulnerable non-poor dropped by 78 per cent, 79 per cent and 71 per cent respectively.

Income of those who are still working also saw a sharp decline, among them highest 93 per cent were restaurant workers followed by 76 per cent maids and 73 per cent rickshaw pullers.

Per capita food expenditure also dropped by 32 per cent in urban slum areas and 24 per cent among the rural poor. 

Of the respondents, main source of income of 40.32 per cent is casual labour, 29.23 per cent is salaried labour, 17.84 per cent run small businesses, 9.14 per cent depends on agriculture/livestock rearing and the income source of remaining 3.47 per cent is other activities.

‘If we conservatively estimate then we can say that income of the poor and the vulnerable non-poor people dropped at least by 70 per cent due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country,’ PPRC executive chairman Hossain Zillur Rahman told New Age.

He said that around 80 per cent of vulnerable non-poor who used to be 40 per cent above poverty line were at risk of becoming poor.

These new poor emerge due to the loss of income source, he said.

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