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Dhaka Tribune

Covid-19 impact: 77% of households face loss of monthly income

According to a study, the months between April and October of 2020 saw roughly 77% of households in Bangladesh lose a proportion of their average monthly income, with approximately 34% having at least one member lose their job

Update : 25 Jun 2021, 12:34 AM

The economic disruptions caused by Covid-19 have left many people jobless, especially those belonging to low-income communities and the informal economy. 

According to a study, the months between April and October of 2020 saw roughly 77% of households in Bangladesh lose a proportion of their average monthly income, with approximately 34% having at least one member lose their job.

In response to the ramifications of the pandemic, the impacted families consumed their savings and borrowed loans, leading to a decrease of 62% in their average monthly savings, as well as an increase in debt by 31%. 

The data mentioned above was derived from the findings of joint research by the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, Brac and UN Women Bangladesh, on the changes in demographic, economic and social environments in the upazila and rural areas of Bangladesh, brought on by the rise in reverse migration during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The results of the research were unveiled at a virtual international dialogue titled, “Demographic and socio-economic changes induced by the Covid-19 pandemic: Challenges of new circumstances” on Wednesday evening, reads a press release. 

A panel of distinguished experts, policymakers and development professionals shared their insights at the dialogue, including Leah Zamore, the humanitarian crises program lead at the Center on International Cooperation of New York University, who moderated the dialogue. 

KAM Morshed, senior director of Brac, who presented the research findings with Shoko Ishikawa, country representative of UN Women Bangladesh, Dr Daniel Naujoks, interim director of International Organization and UN Studies Specialization at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, and Dr Adam Schwartz, director of Health at Brac USA.

Further results of the study state that 25% of returnee migrant households expressed concern about repaying their outstanding migration loans, which amount to a maximum of 700,000 BDT, as 44% of the respondents reported being unable to find any income-generating work. 

As a result, returnee migrant families will increase the pressure on the already resource-constrained local sectors — education and health in particular. 

The research has also discovered a higher incidence of child marriage in Bangladesh during the pandemic. Of the marriages that occurred during the survey, more than 77% of the brides were below 18 years, and 61%, below 16. Due to this, the expected crude birth rate in the rural areas was heightened, with 19.5 births per thousand in each population.

At the discussion session by the panellists, Shoko Ishikawa, the country representative of UN Women Bangladesh, expressed his concerns, saying: “Bangladesh is one of those countries where schools remain closed for over one and a half years although digital learning opportunities for children are quite inadequate, particularly in the rural areas.

“Long periods of closed schools have implications on child marriage at an alarming rate, and economic challenges are forcing families to get their daughters married off. We need to ensure social protection measures so that families do not resort to such decisions,” added Ishikawa.

Dr Daniel Naujoks elaborated: “The study will help local, regional and national level policymakers to better address such problems. With our strained economic and social systems, it is crucial to mend their vulnerabilities by reinforcing political momentum, and adding in large-scale reforms.”

Stressing on the decision of women regarding the use of contraceptives, BRAC USA director, Adam Schwartz, responded: “We want to make sure that women have sufficient tools and abilities to safeguard their health and family planning decisions. Can we build systems and services so that the government and NGO actors can meaningfully improve actual agency, resiliency and alternatives? 

“More studies on solutions pertaining to this problem are needed,” Schwartz added.

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