People living in municipal cities across the country are suffering acutely from the want of basic needs amid the COVID-19 crisis, said mayors at a webinar on Monday.
The government allocation of relief was inadequate to meet the severity of the crisis, they also said at the webinar, organised by Municipal Association of Bangladesh in association with Urban Development Journalists Forum.
Livelihoods Improvement of Urban Poor Communities Project, funded by UNDP and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, supported the event.
The poverty rate has increased three times in municipal areas in the country, FCDO social development adviser Anowarul Haq said at the webinar referring to a recent study by UNDP.
Referring to different studies, he said, the national poverty rate would increase from 7 per cent to 10 due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The reduction of urban poverty by creating new jobs will be the biggest challenge for the government as a large number of urban people working in the informal sector have lost their jobs, said the livelihood improvement project’s international technical adviser Yugesh Prodhan.
Many urban people, mainly day labourers, rickshaw pullers, kindergarten school teachers, construction workers and other non-government workers in different municipal areas, have lost their income sources in the last eight months.
Jhinaidah municipal mayor Saidul Karin Mintu said that government allocation for municipalities was inadequate.
Some NGOs received funds from the government but distributed nothing, not even a mask, he lamented.
More than 4.5 crore people are living in 329 municipalities in the country. About 35 mayors, 60 councillors and 185 employees of the municipalities were infected with COVID-19 until Monday, said the municipal association secretary general and Shariatpur municipal mayor Rafiqul Islam in his presentation.
The municipal association president and Nilphamari municipal mayor Dewan Kamal Ahmed presided over the webinar, where among others the association vice-presidents AKM Mahbubur Rahman, Kazi Liyakot Ali and Khandaker M Kamruzzaman Mazed spoke. The journalist forum’s former president Amitush Paul moderated the event.
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