As food security for the poor and vulnerable people across the country has come under threat amid the coronavirus crisis, South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) on Wednesday suggested four specific "quick" steps to overcome this.
Dr Selim Raihan, executive director of SANEM, in a press release came up with these steps that are given below verbatim:
Depending on the government’s list of the poor people under the existing social security programs, the quick distribution of essential food items at the local level during the crisis is extremely important.
Create new lists very quickly so that excluded poor people and vulnerable population can be included in the distribution programs of essential food items.
At the local level, the administration, people representatives, volunteers and NGOs (such as BRAC, Grameen Bank) can work together to create and update lists, distribute food, and prevent irregularities throughout the process.
Capable people in the private sector and private sector business associations (such as the BGMEA, FBCCI, MCCI, DCCI) need to come forward to ensure food security for their workers and staff.
Stressing on the requirement of these steps for ensuring food security for the poor and vulnerable both in rural and urban areas during this coronavirus crisis, Mr Raihan stated though, “It is important to keep in mind that the challenges of food security in rural and urban areas can be different”.
He mentioned that according to the official poverty line income, in Bangladesh, 20.5 per cent of the population is poor. As a result, the number of poor people in the country is 34 million.
“But if this poverty line income is raised by 25 to take into account poverty and vulnerability (Bangladesh's “National Social Security Strategy 2015” has adopted this definition of vulnerability), the percentage rate of poverty and vulnerability together becomes more than the double of the poverty rate,” he said.
“That is, the number of poor and vulnerable people in the country is now close to 70 million. During the ongoing crisis, one of the major challenges is ensuring food security for this huge population,” the SANEM executive director added.