COVID-19 pulls 77pc vulnerable people down to poverty

Staff Correspondent | Published: 13:23, May 21,2020


The file photo shows that a policeman stop rickshaws on Rampura road as three major roads of the capital city were declared off limit to rickshaws. — New Age photo

The income shock out of the COVID-19 pandemic has pulled down 77 per cent of the countries vulnerable non-poor group below the poverty line, according to a rapid survey released on Thursday.

Conducted by the Power and Participation Research Centre and BRAC Institute for Governance and Development, the telephone-based survey said the number of new poor in the country increased by 22.2 per cent, 25.1 per cent in rural and 21.6 per cent in urban, on the basis of  $1.9 daily income.

The study report covering socio-economic aspects also said that the extreme poor, moderate poor and the new poor constituted 43 per cent of the country’s population who needed Tk 10,949 crore support monthly as personal coping mechanism including savings, borrowing or grocery shop credit, and curtailing food consumption would be exhausted soon.

A total of 12,000 households from urban slums and rural areas across eight divisions participated in the phone survey conducted in April 4-12, more than a week after the government imposed shutdown on March 26 to check spread of the virus.

The extent of the income drop was 75 per cent in urban slums and 62 per cent in the rural areas as the unprecedented shutdown affected informal sector occupants — rickshaw-puller, maid, day labourer, industrial and transport workers.

The survey also found that the drastic drop in income led to a contraction in food expenditure.

Not affording three meals a day was more pronounced for urban slum as the percentage was 24 per cent households compared to 14 per cent rural households, the study said.

The respondents expressed serious concern for the family’s welfare reflecting a combined concern for economic and health security and the income shock was the second most voiced concern.

The urban respondents appeared to be less concerned with the COVID-19 (50 per cent) compared to rural respondents (60 per cent), reflecting greater pressure on urban households to ignore social distancing protocols in search of livelihoods.

Healthcare and education did not figure prominently on the list of concerns as 22-24 per cent cited mental stress as an important concern.

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