Survey: Earnings of low-income group drops 70%

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Livelihoods during shutdown

Income of the country’s low-income group has fallen by 70% following the countrywide shutdown enforced by the government to halt the spread of pandemic, reveals in a survey.

Ultra poor, moderate poor and vulnerable non-poor are the worst victims of the pandemic, it says further.

The survey, titled “Poverty Trends under Covid-19: Sharing Findings from PPRC-BIGD Rapid Response Survey,” was unveiled through an online media briefing in the capital on Thursday.

According to the findings of the survey, economic activities dropped by 71% in urban and 55% in rural areas.

Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) jointly conducted the survey.

The survey recommended for introducing a monthly food security support package of Tk5,600 crore for the poor and an additional package for the new poor.

As per the findings, food consumption capacity also reduced by 40% for the poor and 35% for the vulnerable poor.

The new poor are those who were 40% above poverty line, but have fallen below the line following the crisis, explain the organizers.

The survey also suggested for adopting measures beyond traditional poverty reduction methods to address the current pressing issue as the impact of coronavirus had been broad and multi-dimensional.

“As the impact is broad, immediate safety net has to go beyond targeting and prioritization parameters. We have to think beyond the traditional poverty alleviation method,” said PPRC Executive Chairman Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman.

Since there had been a decline in consumption and impact was intensifying, he urged the government to resume the Open Market Sales (OMS) scheme, which was temporarily suspended.

PPRC and BIGD teamed up to launch the rapid response telephonic survey utilizing respondents’ telephone database on urban slums and rural poor.

A total of 5,471 respondents were reached through telephone from April 1 to April 12.

The research was intended to support better policy responses and design support programs for the vulnerable population, said Zillur Rahman.

Dr Imran Matin, Executive Director of BIGD said the food and cash, both should be raised for poor people. 

Government and NGOs’ support should be sufficiently enhanced, he added.

The survey also showed that 55% in rural and 71% in urban areas rendered economically inactive during shutdown period. Drop in per capita food expenditure fell 24% in rural and 32% in urban areas.