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Dhaka Tribune

Survey: 88% of extreme urban poor in Dhaka, Chittagong now without income amid Covid-19

94% of them are being forced to skip meals as they have no money or aid, while 91% are afraid of getting infected with Covid-19

Update : 19 May 2020, 11:57 PM

At least 88% of the extreme urban poor of Dhaka and Chittagong are now without any income amid the government-enforced shutdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the country, according to a survey.

Furthermore, 94% of them are being forced to skip meals as they have no money or aid, while 91% are afraid of getting infected with Covid-19, said respondents to study conducted by the urban poverty team of microfinance institution SAJIDA Foundation.

The survey aimed to explore the concerns, changes, and challenges faced by pavement, squatter, and under-developed slum dwellers who are often overlooked in other studies and development projects.

The study had a total 572 respondents, who are all active service users of the “Amrao Manush 2” project in Dhaka and Chittagong. 

The findings of the rapid telephonic survey were revealed in a press release issued by the organization on Tuesday.

“The survey found that 88% of respondents reported that they were not earning at all. Men were more likely to still be working -18%  –  than women – 11%. The Covid-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for female heads of households who are the sole breadwinners of their family – whose garment factory and housemaid jobs have been lost during the shutdown,” said the release. 

“Food aid is not meeting the needs of the extreme urban poor. This has resulted in families rationing food. A total 94% of respondents said they are skipping meals due to the shutdown,” it added.

“Meanwhile, 55% of people in the survey reported an increase in violence since the shutdown was initiated, and 26% of the respondents said that they were victims of health and coronavirus related harassment in the last two weeks.

“A total 70% of the extreme urban poor surveyed said police were the main perpetrators of increased violence during the shutdown. Whilst there were some positive stories of police trying to explain the Covid-19 safety measures, there were also many stories of police beating people. These responses stress on the urgent need for improved police sensitization and training,” the release further said.

“Family violence has also increased during this shutdown. a total 51% of respondents said their spouses were responsible for the increased violence inside the family.

“These findings highlight the need to invest in services addressing family violence and mental health during this crisis, as is also noted within a recent mental health report by the WHO,” it added.

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