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A plan for the rural poor

  • Published at 01:09 am May 16th, 2020
farmers crops
File photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

A recent survey has shown that over 80% of rural farmers, day labourers, and factory workers have experienced decreases in their incomes

It is not surprising to find that the coronavirus pandemic, and the necessary ensuing lockdown, has devastated the economy, leading to great losses -- including job losses -- all around.

But no one has been as affected as the rural poor in this regard, whose entire lives and livelihoods have been turned upside down, with little to no alternative source of income with which to sustain themselves and their families in the upcoming months.

A recent survey has shown that over 80% of rural farmers, day labourers, and factory workers have experienced decreases in their incomes, leading to massive numbers of people now struggling to make ends meet.

This has led to a worrisome dip in average income for the rural lower-income population, which was a little over Tk10,000 in February, dropping to less than Tk4,500 in April.  

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that many of these earners have multiple dependents in their households, leading to further worries regarding more and more people being pushed towards abject poverty.

Further escalation of the rural situation must be stopped at all costs. While the government has implemented stimulus packages and schemes designed specifically to aid the rural poor -- a worthy and commendable initiative -- this might not be enough.

For one, there is a general fear that bureaucratic red tape will delay the process and, more importantly, we need to have massive and widespread social safety net programs in place which attempt to be as inclusive as possible when it comes to access to funds and loans for the rural poor.

Without this help, we could have most of Bangladesh slide right back below the poverty line. And that would be disastrous for them, and for the country we call home.