Tackling coronavirus-induced poverty escalation

Inclusive and micro-level development should get more priority than economic growth

Over the last years under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Bangladesh has showed that how a country can come out of poverty and march towards a low middle-income country within a very short time. 

The remarkable development that the country has gained over the last ten years of Awami League regime has instilled the confidence into people that becoming a developed nation is very much possible. 

But the global health crisis caused by Covid- 19 has hit Bangladesh's economy hard and jeopardised the country's impressive achievements in poverty reduction.

According to an analysis of the Centre for Policy Dialogue,  Bangladesh’s national poverty rate rose to 35 per cent in 2020 from 24.3 per cent in 2016 due to the adverse impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The global health crisis caused by Covid-19 

has jeopardised the country's impressive 

achievements in poverty reduction

Since the start of a nationwide shutdown in Bangladesh on March 26, the situation of thousands of poor people has worsened.  For many it has been a question of survival, with food security growing even more precarious.  

Many have not been able to obtain food aid from state-run schemes. Though it is envisaged that a food crisis due to the pandemic is unlikely as Bangladesh has good food production and enough food stock, with the loss of income and declining purchasing power, large numbers of people cannot avail the food in stock. 

Experts are of the opinion that more than four million will become extremely poor in Bangladesh due to impact of Covid-19. Therefore, we need to think about how to support them in the coming days. Poverty, inequality and employment should be the primary areas of the policy focus for economic recovery.

It is common that any kind of social or financial crisis hits the poor harder. Hence poverty alleviation is not just the responsibility of the government; it is also our collective responsibility. 

Though the government has integrated allowance for the poor and needy, the amount is not sufficient.  Therefore, apart from giving allowance, it is advisable to involve the poor in income-oriented jobs. 

Also the government and policymakers should give more priority to inclusive and micro-level development than economic growth only.