It is crucial now to focus on developing expansive social safety nets that will be able to cover a majority of the current population suffering from poverty
Although Covid-19 has affected the lives and livelihoods of nearly all sections of society, those living in and on the brink of poverty have, no doubt, been hit disproportionately hard.
To an extent, this has undone the colossal poverty alleviation work that Bangladesh managed to do over the past two decades, having brought poverty down from 48.9% in 2000 to 20.5% in 2019. Those who have newly slipped into poverty during this pandemic, termed the “new poor,” constitute almost 15% of the population as of last March.
It is imperative that Bangladesh acknowledge this stark rise in poverty rates, and implement measures accordingly to mitigate these adverse effects of the pandemic. While there have been continued efforts to aid the poor through these trying times, mostly by offering aid and relief, it is crucial now to focus on developing expansive social safety nets that will be able to cover a majority of the current population suering from poverty.
Poverty alleviation of this sort has numerous challenges ahead, funding being one of the major obstructions, especially due to the large numbers of the new poor.
To that end, it is encouraging to see the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approve a $250 million loan to Bangladesh to strengthen social protection programs and thus support an inclusive approach to recovery from the socioeconomic devastation caused by Covid-19.
Extensive reforms of this sort will go a long way towards poverty alleviation, which is absolutely crucial for the nation now, as it struggles with greater sections of its population falling below the poverty line.