A recent survey finds that about 63% of coastal poor households have borrowed loan from local money lenders at high-interest rates due to absent of institutional credit facilities.
The survey also finds 57% of households are suffering from food crisis because of the lockdown, and about 46% of households have experienced increasing violence against women.
The Monitoring and Research Department of the COAST Trust, a Bangladeshi NGO, conducted the survey.
COAST Trust conducted the survey in eight coastal districts to know the impact on the livelihoods of poor people of the coastal areas because of the lockdown announced in the country to prevent the coronavirus infection.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director of the COAST Trust, said that a local moneylender allegedly killed a poor man recently in Kutubdia of Cox’s Bazar as the man had failed to repay the loan he had taken.
“We conducted this survey to understand the plight of low-income people for lockdown. COAST Trust has so far donated about TK 20 lakh from its fund to the relief fund of nine coastal districts and 49 Upazila administrations to help hapless people,” he said.
According to the COAST Trust’s Monitoring and Research Department, the survey collected data from 240 poor, women-headed, and low-income families under 12 branches of the organization in six districts, including Chattogram, Noakhali, and Barisal. Around 83% of respondents live in villages and 17% in cities and 57.3% of respondents are women-headed families.
According to the survey, 42% families can get meals for 3 times a day, which is normal. Some 52% of families are eating twice a day and 5% of families are taking one time meal per day. Around 56% of families used to eat regular protein i.e. fish, meat, or eggs 3-4 days a week which came down to 13% because of lockdown. Around 87% of households now consume such protein 1-2 days a week.
Because of the lockdown, 34% of households have lost their income completely, income has come down by one-fourth to 39%, and half for 19% families. This picture is unique to women-headed families. Some 46% of households have lost their income completely, income has dropped to one-fourth for 30% of households.
Around 63% of the households have taken loans from moneylenders at high-interest rates to cope with the crisis and 18% of households have borrowed from relatives and 13% of households have received no loan.
Some 48% of households have broken down their savings in response to the crisis caused by the lockdown. Around 35% of the families sold their cows and goats. Among women-headed households, 30% of respondents said there was no way to break their savings, sell cows or goats or jewelry.
Around 54% of respondents said that the lockdown has increased the incidence of violence against women in their families. In 82% of households, abusive or abusive language was used. 9% of households have raised their hands and 9% of households have been pressured for dowry.
When asked what they plan to do if the lockdown continues, 78% of households say they may need to take out a loan of high interest from an NGO or bank. If not, they will take a loan from a local moneylender at a high-interest rate. Besides, 38% of households said that they should spend the remaining savings down. Some 20% of households will sell cows, goats, or jewelry and 15% will sell labor in advance to the local moneylenders, while in women-headed households, the rate is 18%.
Around 94% of households have sought various types of loan support from NGOs, which were closed during the data collection. Some 41% of respondents asked for a new loan, 13% asked for an ongoing loan increase and 43% asked for a cooperative loan or financial support. Note that most of the borrowers will invest for their livelihood and 69% of the families have sought relief from the government in this situation and 21% of the families have sought cash support.
The Department of Monitoring and Research of the COAST says, low-income people in the food crisis want to invest in small businesses to turn around. That is why they need a loan. In the absence of micro-credit or other institutional credit arrangements, they will have to borrow from local moneylenders at high-interest rates or will be more at risk of breaking up savings.