The urban poor spend as much as half of their limited incomes on food. They struggle to feed their families thrice a day as food prices skyrocket. Increasing numbers of people in Dhaka are going hungry, according to recent research.
The Dhaka North Community Federation, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), carried out the research on food security and urban poverty in Dhaka North. The findings were presented at a seminar in the capital on Wednesday.
Key to the findings is that the main cause of food insecurity among the urban poor is a lack of sufficient and regular income – due to the poor predominantly having odd jobs with low and irregular pay.
The research states financial losses – such as an illness in the family, or a rise in the cost of food – can cause serious hardship for poor households. The losses have potentially devastating impacts on their ability to eat enough healthy food.
Another finding suggests that the urban poor focus on filling their stomachs to avoid hunger, rather than eating nutritious food.
At the seminar, Chief Technical Advisor of the FAO project John Taylor explained how the research will benefit the marginalised group.
He said, "It is critically important that we listen to the voices of the poor so that we better understand what difficulties they have to access enough food – particularly enough nutritious and safe food."
"They are rarely given an opportunity to represent themselves, yet they are the ones who suffer most and have to address the problem of finding enough food every day of their lives," added Taylor.
Other research findings suggest that non-income related causes like sanitation and drinking water contribute to food insecurity; poor communities usually do not get adequate support from local governments and they are often excluded from nutritious and sufficient food policies.