• Saturday, Sep 26, 2020
  • Last Update : 10:51 am

OP-ED: Crippled livelihoods threaten our goals

  • Published at 10:27 pm September 14th, 2020
covid-19
Ensuring long-lasting livelihood is essential REUTERS

Sustainable livelihood is a prerequisite to establishing sustainable development

Sustainable livelihood is a prerequisite to establishing sustainable development. Although the outstanding achievement of the government of Bangladesh is laudable, the success of door-to-door sustainable livelihood has presently become questionable. This year, developing countries especially are suffering a noxious situation, with hunger and poverty skyrocketing.

According to the World Bank, global poverty comprised 8.6% of the world population, or 736 million people, in 2018. Therefore, the current poverty situation could lead to the devastation of the nation’s achievements towards sustainable development.

Undoubtedly, sustainable livelihood is at the heart of sustainable development, and moreover, considered to be one of the pillars needed to achieve the SDGs. But we reckon sustainable livelihood is going to be impeded by the increased trend of unemployment prospects present in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

This pandemic situation in 2020 has led to turbulent conditions in many job sectors and plunging employment rates across the globe -- from developed states to least developing countries.

Some observations

On June 6 of this year, the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics published that unemployment had reached 10.2% in the United States.

In Bangladesh, the Trading Economic global macro models and analyses estimate that towards the end of the year, unemployment would peak at 4.4%. If this happened, it would lead to terrible pressure on the government. Jobless people are not only a burden to the government, but might also result in the country’s overall interest towards sustainable development becoming shaky in the coming years.

Although the unemployment problem is a global issue, the risk zone is expanding for developing countries, including Bangladesh, due to the limited capacity of the country to recover people’s livelihoods.

Theoretically, human development and sustainable livelihood work hand in hand, hence named “sustainable development.” Firstly, we need to focus on food insecurity right now so that it does not erratically fall. At the same time, social assets must be built stronger than ever. We need to innovate greater quality in human resources in order to efficiently build a powerful pillar that would support our sustainable development.

Sustainable livelihood is a necessity for outcomes such as permanent income sources, assuring well-being in human life, and having the capability to provide nutritional food in every meal. Bangladesh is confident in its ability to achieve the SDGs; at the least, it would be close to reaching the SDGs by 2030.

However, researchers assume that the day is also not far when our economic growth will take a hit. Our achievable target of sustainable development is in jeopardy, particularly in the wake of Covid-19 and how it has influenced livelihood.

No light in sight

This is the right time to think of those categories of people who have already lost their economic foundations and are suffering. For example, different media sources bring to light that low-income people -- almost 50,000 families -- have left Dhaka city because they lost their sources of earning in the city.

On the other hand, existing employees are getting a significantly reduced salary, and have no other avocations to recover this deficit in income and pay for continued housing or education of children in this expensive city. 

In fact, a large number of employees have lost their jobs from several sectors where their income was the only livelihood support for their family. They left for the villages and rural areas, reckoning that it was better to utilize the land in the countryside for food rather than be in Dhaka.

Corresponding with the returnee migrants who had left Bangladesh in search for better lives, information from the World Economic Forum in June of 2020 stated that around 14 million migrants sent remittance which nearly amounted to $18 billion. Remittance from migrant workers has always supported Bangladesh’s economic growth. But after coming back to their dreamland, many are passing cursed lives now due to the lack of extra income during the corona period.

Alternative or standard income might have built sustainable food security in this crisis year. Unluckily, many of us are now falling victim to the coronavirus and becoming dependent on the government or other organizations. 

This is indeed a very critical time for most people. If a large amount of money had been spent for the rehabilitation of the livelihoods of those victims, they would have cultivated new sources of economic progress, which would accelerate the targeted achievements of the SDGs again.

The economic crisis caused by Covid-19 is a significant headache for all countries, but the developed world is still supporting its citizens’ livelihoods. In comparison, we are far behind in trying to recover our terrible conditions.

Political leaders and development organizations should work together now, focusing on long-term income generation strategies, so that people’s livelihoods can recover immediately. Otherwise, the government may face more obstacles ahead in achieving SDG 1 (End poverty in all its forms everywhere) and SDG 2 (Zero hunger), which are directly connected to our livelihoods.

Last but not the least, long-lasting livelihood is the first and most important step needed to establish a strong platform to achieve sustainable development.

Polin Kumar Saha and Shahida Akhter are Sustainability Professionals at Development Organizations. They can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected] respectively.

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