A survey on communities across three districts in Bangladesh reveals that 72 percent of the population to be unemployed due to movement restrictions and workplace closures caused by Covid-19 pandemic.
Daily wage workers, such as rickshaw and transport drivers, masons, garment workers, small scale traders and farmers, which accounted for nearly half of the surveyed population, have been especially impacted, says a press release of Concern Worldwide.
The report warns that flood and landslides from this year's monsoon season will impact communities more severely because of economic stagnation and Covid-19 health risks.
Commissioned by Concern Worldwide, Mercy Corps and Practical Action on behalf of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, "Monsoon, floods and Covid-19: building community resilience in Bangladesh", surveyed 15 Union Disaster Management Committees – community resilience action committees -- across three districts which are home to 380,000 people.
According to the report, fears of the monsoon-induced floods exacerbating socio-economic and health conditions of vulnerable groups and pushing people into poverty.
Other key findings of the survey
· Lack of income, increase in prices of goods and market closures are leading to challenges to purchase food and essential items for hygiene and sanitation maintenance such as soap.
· Cultivation of agriculture products is difficult due to lack of seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides in the market.
· Nearly 90 percent of people are not fully aware of proper hygiene and sanitation practices to prevent Covid-19 transmission, especially during flood events.
· Without quarantine facilities, home isolation is the only available option for those suspected of having Covid-19.
· 75 percent of management committees are not fully functional, mainly due to lack of resources in personnel and budget.
· Most committees have not been able to consider Covid-19 in disaster management plans due to lack of knowledge and guidance on how to do so, including on distancing and transmission prevention means in an evacuation scenario.
The report's Co-author Zakia Naznin, programme manager, Flood Resilience Project, Char Programme, from Concern Worldwide said: "While it is not possible to prevent floods and storms, it is possible to limit the damage they cause to vulnerable communities, to help prevent loss of life and livelihoods, damage to property and essential services such as hospitals and schools."
"We are calling for wealthy countries and donors to help assist the authorities in Bangladesh support the most vulnerable people, as they grapple with the compound risks of floods and storms resulting from the monsoon rains, as well as Covid-19," she added.
Climate change shocks
Co-author Afsari Begum, senior specialist for Disaster Risk Reduction, from Practical Action in Bangladesh said: "We are concerned that a lot of people will be pushed further into poverty because of Covid-19, but especially if communities are battered by intense storms and floods that destroy or damage homes, agricultural land, schools and hospitals."
Subinoy Dutta, programme and advocacy manager, Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, Mercy Corps in Bangladesh, said: "Bangladesh is a country that is very vulnerable to hazards like storms and flood impacts, which are exacerbated by climate change shocks like rising sea levels. Now, at the start of this monsoon season, it has to grapple with the Covid-19 crisis. Our research shows that a lot of people, especially the poor, are unable to earn income in sectors that require them to leave the house to make a living. For them, there is no work from home option."