World Vision calls for immediate attention to the rising poverty and children’s sufferings due to the situation
Nearly 95% of Bangladeshi households’ income has been impacted during the three months general holiday observed by the government to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Children, particularly those living in the most vulnerable rural and urban areas are also at risk of both physical and mental health challenges due to social and economic disruptions caused by the pandemic.
The data was obtained in a Rapid Impact Assessment report released by World Vision Bangladesh on Saturday.
Of the surveyed households, income of 78.3% of the daily wage earners has decreased.
The overall decrease in income is an impact of the shutdown of economic activities due to the closure of businesses and daily work during the general holiday, said World Vision in a press release.
Almost 34% households do not have safe and clean water for drinking, cooking and cleaning with another 50% households not abiding by hygiene practices such as hand-washing with soap due to lack of access and availability of hygiene kits and inadequate water sources, it also observed.
In Bangladesh, children account for about 45% of the national population. Of them, 46% live under the poverty line, with one-quarter living in extreme poverty.
The study was done on 1,616 children aged between 12 and 18 years in 52 upazilas under eight divisions along with 2,671 adult participants.
“We are worried about these children especially those below the age of five who are at a greater risk of preventable infections such as malnutrition that may increase infant mortality in the country,” says the NGO’s Interim National Director Chandan Gomes.
He said the NGO has observed an increase in the number of children who have become extremely vulnerable to diseases such as malnutrition due to reduced food stocks in almost all of its operational areas located in 26 districts and 57 sub-districts.
According to the study, 94.7% households have no or very limited food stock while 38.5% of children and 58.9% of adults in the study areas reported having a maximum of two meals per day.
A further 58% of households are passing days with a lesser number of meals, it added.
Chandan said: “I am worried about the 87% of children who reported feeling isolated at home and 91.5% who are worried about Covid-19.
“We need immediate attention to address issues affecting children during this time, including the children living in the Rohingya camps and the host communities in southern Bangladesh. We have to ensure access and availability of products and services needed to adequately address their concerns.”