One year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the poor across Bangladesh are still struggling with their livelihoods and facing emerging vulnerabilities, like mounting debt and dwindling savings, a study finds.
The situation of the urban slum dwellers in particular is dire, it says.
Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) jointly conducted the national three-phase rapid telephonic survey between April 2020 and March 2021 to capture the changing poverty impact of the Covid-19 health and economic crisis on low-income communities.
According to the findings from the third phase survey titled ‘Poverty Dynamics and Household Realities’, with a sample of 6,099 households, the per capita income in urban slums is still 14 percent below pre-Covid levels.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, Executive Chairman of PPRC, and Dr Imran Matin, Executive Director of BIGD, presented the findings in a webinar on Tuesday where they highlighted the evolving poverty dynamics and vulnerabilities in Bangladesh.
Among the economically vulnerable groups — namely the extreme and moderate poor, two groups below the poverty line, and the vulnerable non-poor or VNP, the group above the poverty line but below median national income — household incomes of the VNP have recovered the slowest.
Last June, the study found that the income of 72 percent of the VNP had sunk below the poverty line, who were then identified as the new poor.
The percentage of new poor among the VNP is 50 percent at present, 59 percent in urban slums and 44 percent in rural areas. The study estimated that the new poor constituted 21.2 percent of the national population in June, now they constitute 14.8 percent, still a staggering number.
Employment scenario has improved from June, yet eight percent of those who were employed before COVID are currently unemployed.
The trend is particularly concerning for women - a third of the women employed before COVID have remained unemployed since June.