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Survey: Income drops for underprivileged amid pandemic

  • Published at 02:35 pm August 18th, 2020
low income people-poverty-relief-coronavirus-RAJIB DHAR
Many of the underprivileged and homeless in Dhaka has been entirely reliant on aid and charity to survive during the lockdown as most of them have lost their source of income Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

16% Dhaka city dwellers migrated

A survey has revealed that the income of the underprivileged in Bangladesh has decreased strikingly during the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey was jointly conducted by the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD). A total of 7,638 respondents were reached through telephone between June and July of 2020 for the purpose.

According to the findings of the survey, many urban residents are moving out of the city – 16% from the capital and 8% from Chittagong city –moved to some other districts, indicating a graver economic burden on city-dwellers.

Titled "Phase II: Livelihoods, Coping, and Recovery During Covid-19 Crisis," the survey was unveiled through an online media briefing on Tuesday.

Detailed research findings were discussed by BIGD Executive Director Dr Imran Matin and former adviser to the caretaker government and PPRC Executive Chairman Hossain Zillur Rahman.

According to the survey, per capita daily income of the urban slum dropped by 43% in June compared to February. The drop in per capita income of the rural poor and the Chittagong Hill Tracts declined by 41% and 25% respectively in the same period.

The earnings drop between February and June for most informal occupations on average was 49%, compared to an average of 17% for formal occupations (factory worker, salaried jobs). To the extent the Covid-19 stimulus packages worked for the poor, it benefited only the formal sector, said the survey.

The survey says 11% of the urban poor remain below the hunger index of 3 meals a day. 30% of them are coping by reducing consumption.

As per the findings, the proportion of new poor in June was 21.7%, slightly less than the proportion of new poor of 22.8% in April.

The survey also says that only 15.8% of the urban samples received cash relief, getting an average of Tk 1767. This amounts to a group average of only Tk 272.

Migration out of cities was 6% in April, rising to 13.3% in June. For Dhaka alone, the figure was 15.6% in June, the study says.

The survey suggests support for people in informal occupations as they were mostly deprived of help from the stimulus packages. It also emphasizes the importance of food security measures.

As per the findings, the proportion of new poor in June was 21.7%, slightly less than the proportion of new poor of 22.8% in April.

Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said the dismal scenario had had a serious impact on the poverty dynamics in Bangladesh. In April, it was found that 73% of vulnerable non-poor people income had come much below the poverty line, he added.

“We termed them the ‘new poor’ of Bangladesh. In June, the status of the ‘new poor’ was almost unchanged. Taking these new poor into account, the poverty rate in Bangladesh currently stands at a staggering 42%”, he said. 

Zillur Rahman said, ‘People will try to work but they need a safe working environment for that. To gain self-confidence a new national mood is needed.’

Dr Imran Matin said, "One of the notable impacts on employment that we found from our research is 'feminization'. Not only has there been an increase in unemployment in women-dominated occupations such as 'housemaids', but we also found that the impact on female employment is comparatively worse than that of male employment, even in sectors where both men and women workers are present."  

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