The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), in support of the government's Covid-19 response, has begun cash assistance to poor urban populations hit hard by the pandemic, including those in quarantine and isolation, in northern Dhaka.
"The lessons learnt from this pilot will help improve government urban interventions for people vulnerable to shocks such as Covid-19," said Md Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru, MP, state minister of Ministry of Social Welfare, says a press release.
"The pilot programme is also serving as a model for potential replication and scale-up of such assistance programmes in the future," said the state minister.
During the pilot stage, 50,000 individuals (10,000 households) in Kalyanpur, and Sattala Bosti in capital's (Mohakhali area, will receive Tk3000 (US$ 35) per month to help them meet their basic food needs. These locations were identified as a majority of the residents work in the informal sector which includes garment factories and domestic work. Many of them have lost their jobs due to the economic fallout of Covid-19.
"Massive job losses and rising food prices are pushing millions of people into poverty and hunger, especially in urban areas in Bangladesh. This programme is an important step towards addressing the mounting challenges facing the urban households at this critical time," said WFP Country Director Richard Ragan.
Through the programme, WFP will also deliver food baskets to families that have members who have contracted the coronavirus and are in quarantine.
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by BRAC, the programme pays special attention to the families' needs in accessing nutrient-rich food, such as fresh vegetables. By working with local traders, WFP and partners will ensure that a stable supply of vegetables and other nutritious foods are available at reasonable prices at designated local stores.
In August, WFP Country Director Richard Ragan, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller, and Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Md Atiqul Islam, visited families who are participating in the programme in Kallyanpur slum.