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'3-fold rise in urban poverty due to Covid-19'

  • Published at 09:30 pm December 7th, 2020
File photo of Picture of people in the streets amidst the coronavirus pandemic. RAJIB DHAR

All should work by following a cooperative model to overcome the challenges of Covid-19, say experts

The poverty rate in the urban areas of Bangladesh has increased three-fold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with most people living in towns and cities losing their jobs or having their salaries reduced. 

Speakers at a webinar, “Lessons Learned from Covid-19: Impact on the Municipalities of Bangladesh and Recommendations for Effective Prevention Through Policy Advocacy,” made their observations while referring to recently published studies over the matter.   

The webinar was organized by Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB) in association with Livelihoods Improvement of Urban Poor Communities Project (LIUPCP) of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on Monday. 

The webinar was presided over by MAB President and Nilphamari Municipality Mayor Dewan Kamal Ahmed and moderated by Amitush Paul, former president of Urban Development Journalist Forum, Bangladesh (UDJFB).

Anowarul Haq, social development adviser at FCDO, said: “A recent study of UNDP, covering 20 municipalities, has shown that urban poverty has increased three-fold in the country.”

Referring to different studies, he said that the overall poverty rate of the country had increased by 7% to 10%. “We should work together for an immediate solution for those who are jobless.”      

Yugesh Prodhan, international technical adviser of LIUPCP of UNDP, Bangladesh, said that reduction of poverty by creating new jobs was the biggest challenge for the government as a large number of urban people working in the informal sectors had already lost their jobs. 

“To overcome the challenges, we should work by following a cooperative model,” Prodhan added.

Mayors and councillors from different municipalities of the country shared experiences and challenges they have faced due to the Covid-19 crisis at the webinar.

Rafiqul Islam, secretary general of MAB, who presented the keynote paper at the webinar, said: “We have done two things – one is ensuring government funds, a total of Tk45crore for 329 municipalities, to tackle the Covid-19 crisis and the second is creating awareness among general people.”

“Although municipal authorities supported by the government and other organizations have been trying to resolve the ongoing crisis, the resources remain inadequate,” he added.

Among others, AKM Mahbubur Rahman, mayor of Bogra Municipality, Kazi Liakat Ali, mayor of Gopalganj Municipality, Khandaker Md. Kamruzzaman Mazed, mayor of Faridpur, Khalid Hossain, mayor of Madaripur Municipality, Motaher Hossain, mayor of Sonaimuri Municipality, Sydul Karim, mayor of Jhenaidah Municipality, Motin Abdullah, president of UDJFB, also spoke at the virtual discussion.