The pandemic has created a vast pool of newly poor
We are, right now, in the midst of a very necessary lockdown. The statistics paint a grim picture: The Covid-19 death toll is higher than ever, with the Delta variant wreaking havoc and creating panic across the country.
But for a country like Bangladesh, where so many are poor and earn their daily bread by going out to work each day, lockdown can be extremely harsh. After all, unlike many wealthier nations, many in Bangladesh are not in a position to “work from home” or to simply wait out the pandemic while subsisting on savings. The government must, then, give adequate attention to the humanitarian needs of the hour.
Firstly, it must be ensured that no one goes hungry. We are a country that has experienced famine, and as such, over the years, we pledged to never go back to those dark days. Indeed, tremendous strides have been made over the years in terms of food security. The government repeatedly assured our people that hunger would be a thing of the past, and yet, the pandemic has created a vast pool of newly poor, wiping out a lot of the progress we have made thus far.
This is the time to strengthen our social security programs, which has long been a need for Bangladesh. In order to have an effective lockdown, it is important to ensure people have the cushioning required to hunker down and endure this lockdown, because otherwise we are merely replacing one crisis with another. As we have editorialized before, Covid-19 is priority number one, but tackling this pandemic requires proper planning on many fronts, lest we backslide further into poverty.