The livelihoods of 98.3 per cent of the country’s poor people have severely been affected by the COVID-19 crisis with 87 per cent of them going through a food and nutrition crisis and 5 per cent taking one meal a day as they have lost their income for the pandemic, unveiled a study on Thursday.
The Right to Food Bangladesh organisation conducted the study titled ‘Impacts of COVID-19 on Food Intake and Nutrition of Poor People: A Rapid Appraisal,’ which was unveiled at a webinar.
Right to Food Bangladesh chairman Qazi Kholiquz zaman Ahmad, an eminent economist, urged the government to enhance the food support for the poor and to work in collaboration with NGOs in this regard.
He also said that the legal protection for food safety was very important, which he again realised in this time of pandemic.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies senior research fellow Nazneen Ahmed carried out the analysis of the study information collected from 834 respondents in 37 districts under the eight divisions in June.
Before the pandemic 91.6 per cent of the country’s poor had three meals a day and the rest two while none had to eat once a day, according to the survey.
The food crisis in Mymensingh and Sylhet was more acute among the divisions, said Nazneen while presenting the study report.
Among others, food secretary Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum, Right to Food general secretary Mohsin Ali and Centre for Policy Dialogue research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem spoke.
Speakers said that the government, in its attempt to combat the coronavirus pandemic, declared public holiday in the end of March when the livelihoods of the poor were affected with their income evaporating.
Even the children, pregnant women and lactating mothers were going through acute food and nutrition problems as the government did not extend sufficient support to them in this time of the pandemic, they said.
Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum said that the government in the meantime gave food support to five crore poor and provided milk and nutritious food to mothers and infants.
She, however, admitted that the food and nutrition situation in the country was vulnerable due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Khondaker Golam Moazzem said that the situation might worsen if the poor were not provided with sources of income.
According to the study, 7 per cent people were compelled to change their occupation, mostly to farming-related ones, in the mean time.
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