Staff Correspondent: The living cost of most people in Bangladesh has climbed. On the contrary, the income of a large section of people in the country has dipped. Many people are selling family assets to purchase food due to reduced income. Others are getting involved in begging or various crimes.
A monthly report by the World Food Programme (WFP) highlights the declining incomes, rising costs and food insecurity in Bangladesh. The report titled ‘Food Security and Vulnerability Monitoring in Bangladesh’ was published on 22 November.
The report revealed that 37 per cent of people’s income fell in September. Some have lost jobs, some are not getting work every day while some people have been facing crises because of rising price of essentials and for receiving less assistance than before. Besides, expenses of 88 per cent of people have increased.
WFP has been publishing this report every month since July. A total of 1200 people were interviewed over telephone for making this report. There are some positive aspects in the report. One is reduction in the number of people with moderate and severe food insecurity. The rate has come down to 17 per cent in September from 29 per cent in July. The number of people forced to adopt coping measures such as borrowing to buy food, adjusting treatment costs has also decreased slightly. In September, people who were forced to adopt frugality under pressure or crisis stood at 34 per cent. In July it was 48 per cent.
Despite these two positive aspects, it appears that a large section of people are still strained or in crisis. According to the survey, 80 per cent of the people said that the increased price of essentials is currently the biggest blow for them. This has been followed by rising fuel prices and transportation costs, illness and medical expenses, and natural disasters.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country economist Nazneen Ahmed told, if the price of food products increases every month and people’s income remains unchanged, it will bring social problems in the country as a whole.
An analysis of July, August and September data from the WFP survey showed that the biggest drop in people’s income over the three months was in August, at 43 per cent. The situation improved slightly in September at 37 per cent, but not to the level of July. The rate of decline in income in July was 33 per cent. Between 51 and 63 per cent of people said their income remained unchanged over the three months. The income of very few people increased. In September, 9 per cent of people said their income increased.
In August and September, 88 per cent of people said their expenses increased. Some people saw no change in spending. A few people said that their expenses have decreased.
The survey underscored the division-wise food security situation. It showed 100 per cent people of Sylhet division are witnessing food insecurity (partial, moderate and severe). Barishal division has 26 per cent of moderate and severe food insecurity, Khulna has 22 per cent, Chattogram 18 per cent, Rangpur 17 per cent, Dhaka 13 per cent, Rajshahi 12 per cent and Mymensingh has nine per cent. Overall national average rate of people with moderate and severe food insecurity is 17 per cent.
WFP has identified four types of assistance people need now. Of them 42 per cent of people needs food aid, 46 per cent of people needs livelihood support, 26 per cent of people needs health care, 17 per cent of people needs education and 9 per cent of people needs housing.
The survey presents how many people in financial and food crisis are receiving government and private aids. It was seen that one out of every 10 people in crisis is receiving such assistance.
Professor Najma Shaheen of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science of Dhaka University told that people reduce purchasing nutritious food and tend to buy cheaper food. These foods are usually low in nutrients and high in carbohydrates, which eventually affect a person’s healthy growth.
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