It is not news anymore that Covid-19 is wreaking havoc in Bangladesh and the world. This public health emergency will likely result in a global economic crisis, adversely striking the poorest and most marginalised people the hardest.
These issues will undo most of the progress we achieved in the last few years, which is a clear sign of a pushback against globalisation. To meet the tougher times ahead of us, urgent and comprehensive measures are highly needed.
Despite the government's best efforts to contain the situation, they have been limited by their resources. At this crucial moment, charities and civil society should play an extensive role to conquer the catastrophe, with minimal damages and losses, by extending support through aid.
The United Nations refers to civil society as the third sector, alongside government and private sectors. The World Bank defines it as a wide array of formal and informal organisations.
Generally, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), however, encompass wider capacities including NGOs, coalition, networks, community-based groups, faith-based groups, unions and social movements.
The present challenges warrant mobilising all possible resources, including business entities, civil society institutions and every citizen to underpin efforts towards eradicating the shocks of Covid-19.
We must ensure proper utilisation of all resources and judicious fund disbursement within the government, private sectors and enabling community efforts.
Many traders, business owners, government officials, organisations, and individuals have lent their support to the government and the affected communities directly. Humanitarian assistance, voluntary services should be dispensed from all levels as much as possible.
The present situation is pushing everyone to reassess their daily routines. The aftermath will be severe, and difficult decisions will have to be made. The pandemic has exposed structural inequalities, vulnerability of workers and increasing domestic violence as well.
Civil society can contribute to many of these issues, either through providing essential services or documenting and advocating policy changes. They can play an active role to ensure equal treatment and prevent disinformation and misinformation.
Civil society participation is fundamental to building a rights-based society.
On April 08, Oxfam warned in a report that economic fallout from Covid-19 could push half a billion more people into poverty, unless urgent action is taken. While the reach of Covid-19 may be universal but the impacts will not be experienced equally.
The mitigation of these impacts relies heavily on the ability to uphold the roles of the different stakeholders and give voice to the advocates for effectiveness.
An active open feedback loops need to be established to understand how decisions made are impacting the citizens in real-time.
It is vital that civil society be supported to advocate for measurements to protect and prioritise the most vulnerable, paving the way for recovery across all fronts.
The writer is a Deputy Commissioner of customs, Customs Bond Commissionerate, Dhaka.