Inclusive recovery needed to tackle economic fallout
Recently, a research report has been published on Bangladesh's economic recovery efforts. It was jointly conducted by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Cornell University, USA titled, "Signs of Recovery: Patterns of Food Insecurity Before and During Covid-19 in Rural Bangladesh."
Respective research teams came up with the findings that, Bangladesh's recovery from economic fallout of the first wave of pandemic has been more inclusive than some of the high-income countries of the world. As a part of the methodology, researchers used pre-pandemic data and conducted two rounds of phone surveys on the same sample of over 2,000 rural households. Undoubtedly, the findings on inclusive economic recovery are optimistic. We congratulate the government due to its sincere efforts.
However, according to statistics, proportion of pandemic-induced unemployment witnessed a 70 per cent decline in between June 2020 and January 2021. In June 2020, 17.2 per cent of main household earners of a sample population in rural Bangladesh reported being unemployed. But that percentage dropped to 5.1 in January 2021. In ensuring food security Bangladesh also made remarkable improvements.
The government also introduced relief programmes worth nearly Tk 30.62 billion. Additionally, there were other safety net programmes implemented to mitigate adverse effects of the Covid-19 crisis. These programmes included - one-off cash support to five million poor and vulnerable families through mobile financial services and different stimulus packages. There was a potential threat of food insecurity, looming large in the immediate months after the onset of the pandemic. That was addressed accordingly as well. Rather surprisingly, it took about just 10 months to bring the food situation under control.
It is actually the resurgence of the pandemic since the past month causing us to worry. Now it is time to move in order to tackle the ongoing crisis.
To ease the growing sufferings of people, government can take some immediate-term programs, similar during the first wave of the pandemic. It should redesign safety nets; generate employment programmes for the Poorest (EGPP) and food-for-work programmes by maintaining health guidelines. Authorities concerned must also distribute relief goods among marginalised communities. For the longer term, social health insurance for all should be introduced, even though it might take a longer period of time.
We hope that, successes achieved in inclusive economic recovery after the first wave of the pandemic would inspire us to move forward during the ongoing second wave. Only a comprehensive policy and its proper implementation can ensure uninterrupted socio economic progress in this difficult of times.