Pirojpur received cash assistance under the government's relief and incentive programmes to tackle the crises caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and Cyclone Amphan, but the beneficiary selection process at the grassroots level was not inclusive in many cases, a report says.
Unveiled on Sunday, the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) identified in the report a number of reasons for the non-inclusivity, including a lack of proper campaigning, inadequate preparation, and the inability to select beneficiaries in a way similar to other social safety net programmes.
The CPD, Oxfam, and the European Union in Bangladesh, along with Dak Diye Jai and the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, published the report at a virtual dialogue titled "Relief Supports and Agricultural Incentives in Response to Covid-19 and Amphan: The Effectiveness of Public Service Delivery."
To increase the effectiveness of the Covid-19 relief programme, multidimensional measures need to be considered, taking into account the local poverty rate, population, and unemployment rate rather than relying only on a single indicator to determine the allocation, a CPD press release read.
Raising public awareness about technology-based initiatives related to relief services is critically important. Besides, further steps are needed to increase the transparency of the beneficiary selection process of relief programmes, including the formulation of campaign plans in accordance with the implementation guidelines, the report recommended.
In addition, various information related to relief services, such as allocation, distribution, the list of beneficiaries, and the use of hotline numbers, should be properly stored in the database and initiatives should be taken to manage them.
Addressing the event, Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, convenor of the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh and CPD's distinguished fellow, said poverty-based and risk-based relief support is far more effective than population-based relief efforts.
"More data and administrative coordination are needed to ensure its effectiveness," he said, while emphasising mass awareness creation to reach out to the people in need.
Addressing the same issue, CPD's Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun said, "Local people, the administration, and various NGOs will have to make a concerted effort to solve such problems and tackle the challenges of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."
Speaking as the chief guest, Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim said, "A number of initiatives were taken to support the people of Pirojpur during Amphan and the pandemic.
"The administration, political parties, and NGOs have been working together to tackle the crisis, and the NGOs have been playing a major role in this regard."
Oxfam Bangladesh Country Director Dr Dipankar Dutta said, "I experienced a complicated turn of events as a humanitarian activist last year. I travelled across the country and witnessed peoples' sufferings.
"But I also witnessed the government's commitment towards its citizens. If we consider the government support a ship, our job is to take the support ashore."
Dr Fahmida, Dr Dipankar, and Dak Diye Jai's Executive Director Md Shahjahan Gazi delivered the welcome remarks at the event, while CPD's Distinguished Fellow Prof Mustafizur Rahman moderated the dialogue.
Pirojpur's Deputy Commissioner and Magistrate Abu Ali Md Shazzad Hossain also spoke as the special guest. Local political leaders, government officials, educationists, development workers, entrepreneurs, and social workers were present at the dialogue among others.