The government must keep up its aid efforts
The present lockdown is absolutely crucial to slowing down the spread of Covid-19, but for a country like Bangladesh, lockdown means poorer segments of the population end up suffering, as they cannot go out and earn a living.
This pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to our economy, but while the more affluent classes can afford to stay at home, or work from home, patiently waiting out the crisis, this is not true for those who depend on the day’s wages to feed their families. This country has a history of famine, and the last thing we want to see yet again is large-scale starvation. Our economy has simply come too far to let that happen.
To that end, it is good to see the government make a pledge to provide aid in the form of cash and food to families in need. This is all the more important as the lockdown has already been extended for another week. A total of Tk930 crore has been earmarked for this purpose, with cash aid being disbursed to 3.5 million poor families and 100,000 disaster-affected farmers.
The stark reality is, many in this country still live a hand-to-mouth existence. Labourers, transportation workers, and small entrepreneurs are getting hit hard, and it is understandable why many of them would oppose the lockdown. But since the scale of the Covid-19 crisis has necessitated a lockdown, the government must keep up its aid efforts. Indeed, this may be an opportunity to improve the social protection framework in the country, which can continue to improve people’s lives even after this pandemic is over.