We must, in the coming years, look beyond income, and pay attention to access to safe drinking water, education, electricity, food, as well as other factors
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a one-two punch for developing countries like Bangladesh -- we are faced with not just the loss of life from infection and an overburdened health sector, but with an economy taking a major hit. But while 2020 has thrown all future development plans into uncertainty, making all previous growth targets seem unrealistic, all is not lost.
The fact is, Bangladesh has shown in the recent past that if it has the will, it certainly has the ability to lift people out of poverty. From 2014 to 2019, some 19 million people were lifted out of poverty, making significant strides towards the Sustainable Development Goals, according to a UN report.
Then, of course, disaster struck. As the pandemic hit, and a lockdown was enforced to stop the spread of the coronavirus, some 16.4 million people were left below the poverty line. While this seeming reversal of progress has created an epidemic of pessimism in many, we must also remember to look at the other side of the coin: Bangladesh has the knowledge of alleviating poverty, we know what works and what does not. We can, and we will rebuild once a semblance of normal life resumes.
Poverty cannot be assessed by a single indicator, as the Multidimensional Poverty Index has shown. We must, in the coming years, look beyond income, and pay attention to access to safe drinking water, education, electricity, food, as well as other factors.
Fighting poverty in the post-Covid era will not look the same as before, and much will need to be invented as we go, but there is no reason to fall into despair.