A better way to reach out

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A solution could lie in a coordinated plan to distribute money

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the world hard, and Bangladesh is no exception. But unfortunately, we are, in a number of ways, more vulnerable to this crisis than many of the developed nations of Europe or North America.

Namely, we have a sizeable population of poor people, and for those living below the poverty line, hunger is a more immediate worry than the fear of getting infected. As such, the need of the hour is to provide relief to people, so they are able to hunker down through this period, without fear of starvation.

Regrettably, the food distribution initiatives so far have been fraught with complications. Reports of relief being stolen all over the country are rampant. Clearly, the main problem has not been the collection of relief itself, but getting them to the right hands.

A solution could lie in a coordinated plan to distribute money. Money, of course, is more versatile than food, because people can use it to buy whatever they need. They also happen to be more immune to corruption than food distribution programs, simply because cash programs are easier to control.

We must acknowledge the fact that the scale of the problem makes relief distribution difficult. It can be estimated that some 25 million workers from the informal sector, and some 3 million workers from the formal sector will need assistance.

A stipend would go a long way in reaching out to a large portion of this group. Bankers, audit officers, and security personnel would be required for the program to work, but with the right political will, it can be done.