Various types of support the government provided to people during the Covid-19 pandemic proved ineffective for 23.25% of indigenous peoples, according to a study conducted by the Department of Development Studies of Dhaka University.
The study was presented at a programme titled "Leave no one behind: inclusion of plain land ethnic minorities in achieving SDG 2030" on Thursday, jointly organised by Islamic Relief Bangladesh and the Indigenous Peoples Development Services (IPDS).
Citing the study, Professor Suchita Sharmin of the Department of Development Studies at the University of Dhaka, said 67.75% of indigenous peoples found the government support somehow useful, and only 9% of survey respondents said the support was very useful to them.
After Covid-19, ethnic groups faced many challenges including falling incomes, dropping out from educational institutes, changing income sources, children's involvement in income-generation and more, she added.
Professor Sharmin also said the study found around 3% of males and 3% of females became unemployed while 18% of children had to start working to feed the family.
At the programme, the speakers urged taking special measures for the economic and social development of indigenous communities in the plains and bringing indigenous people into the mainstream to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Presenting the keynote paper, IPDS President Sanjeeb Drong recommended supporting ethnic minorities in building capacity to advocate for their own rights. He said indigenous women and youth also need support to enter into income-generating activities.
Along with supporting entrepreneurship and skill development, employment creation at the local level also has to be enhanced, he added.
As chief guest, Rashed Khan Menon, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Social Welfare Ministry, said small ethnic groups must be included in the mainstream to achieve SDGs as a political decision. Whatever policy we make outside a political decision, will not be implemented.
"If we claim Bangladesh to be a role model in achieving SDGs, we have to prove that minorities do not lag behind," he added.