The South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem), a think-tank, has suggested some steps to ensure food security of the poor and vulnerable people of Bangladesh who have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the official poverty line income, in Bangladesh, 20.5 per cent, or 3.40 crore of the population is poor.
If this poverty line income is raised by 25 per cent taking into account poverty and vulnerability, the percentage of poverty and vulnerability together become more than the double of the poverty rate, said Selim Raihan, executive director of the Sanem, in a press release yesterday.
"That is, the number of poor and vulnerable people in the country is now close to 7 crore," he said, adding that the National Social Security Strategy 2015 of Bangladesh has also adopted the definition of vulnerability.
During the ongoing crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, one of the major challenges is to ensure food security for this huge population. "It is important to keep in mind that the challenges of food security in rural and urban areas can be different," the think-tank said.
Nevertheless, four quick steps are required, it said.
Depending on the government's list of the poor people under the existing social security programmes, quick distribution of essential food items at the local level during the crisis is extremely important.
It asked the government to prepare new lists very quickly so that excluded poor people and vulnerable population can be included in the distribution programmes of essential food items.
"At the local level, the administration, people representatives, volunteers and NGOs can work together to create and update lists, distribute food, and prevent irregularities throughout the process."
Capable people in the private sector and private sector business associations need to come forward to ensure food security for their workers and staff, the Sanem added.