Since December 2019, the world has been concerned about the devastating effects of Corona. Sofar, theresults are being the most dangerous situations the world has ever seen in modern history. There is no doubt that Corona has taken so many lives, and as far as we can see, it will continue to do so. Besides, two-thirds of the world population is under lockdown due to this virus. We don't see the situation will be normal shortly.
The situation is no exception in Bangladesh. The whole country is under lockdown since the mid-March 2020, and we don't know how long it will continue. Furthermore, there have been some changes in the format of lockdown (hard or soft lockdown), but it was never uplifted. And, due to this virus, and lock down the middle-income, and low-income people are mostly affected.
According to the International Labor Organization data, 87 percent of the total labor force in Bangladesh are employed in the informal sector. And, their earning is very much linked to the opening up the country. Since all the markets and outdoor activities are closed, these people's earnings are also closed, and we don't see any hope soon.
In this situation, the Bangladesh government is doing its best to make sure every citizen in the country has meat their necessity. There have been programs by the government to provide food to the people who are in need. Even Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made a list of five million low-income families who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19.
And, just before the Eid ul Fitr, Bangladesh's biggest religious festival the listed each family received Tk2,500 cash assistancethrough mobile financial servicesto make sure there is no misuse of the fund. Because there were allegationsof corruption and misuse of relief goods while distributing to the poor people. Even for that kind of corruption, many local government representatives were suspended.
Coronavirus has indeed brought us several challenges in front of us, but on the other hand, it has undoubtedlyallowed us to improve ourselves. Because we know every challenge has its threats and opportunities. Along with the world, Bangladesh has been facing the threat of pandemic effects and has made the country more resilient and sensitive towards poor people.
We have seen examples of social collaboration and solidarity after the government started tolockdown throughout the country in March 2020. The solvent people came on the streets to help the people who are in need. We have seen this happening from the busy streets of Dhaka to a very calm village in the country. Many big industries collaborated with the smallholding to help the poor.
Government employees have donated parts of their salaries, and Bangla New Year's bonus to the Prime Minister's relief fund. Many garments factories have donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to different hospitals. Because the health sectors face many challenges in regular times, and in the pandemic situation, the hospitals were struggling to serve the patients.
We have seen some political solidarity during the Corona times, which is pretty rear in the politics of Bangladesh. Most of the political parties and their wing organizations have gone on the streets to people's homes with the relief goods and food products. It was Boro and IRRi harvesting times in Bangladesh, and many influential and their followers have helped the farmers to do so.
Because due to the lockdownharvesting labors couldn't more to places and that was a big fear in the minds of farmers. Without help to cut paddy, these farmers had to leave the paddy on the field since there were no labors to cut the paddy. Some of the farmers set fire to their harvest as they couldn't afford day labors to cut the paddy.
On the otherhand, the world is going to experience some transformative, and so does Bangladesh. The world has never seen such a situation like this in this neo-liberal, and capitalistic economies around the world. This Corona pandemic has exposed loop wholes in our system. Now we know we are living in a time and system which is not sustainable and can collapse in a month under pressure, as we have seen at the beginning of the Covid-19 spread.
The world will never be the same again after the pandemic. The experience of transformative change is teaching us how to treat people and nature. Now the policymakers need to learn from the experience and should bring changes in the countries system. So, this is happening in Bangladesh. The countries health system was very 'bad,' and we knew it but didn't see it.
Now the Covid-19 spread have exposed the shortcomings of the health sector. And, with this transformation, we need to adapt to the new reality. Because the definition of health, patients, and diseases have completely changed in this recent pandemic. Besides, in thesechanging times, the health system needs to be transformed, and we hope it will transform into a better one this time.
Bangladesh, as a country, is already resilient to different natural disasters, and climate change effects. Because of the yearly effects of natural disasters, and climate change effects and societies who face these disasters on a regular basis become resilient to those. But the Covid-19 pandemic is a new type of challenge in front of the societies.
Bangladesh government has developed different policies and programs to face natural disasters. We hope now the country will think about national health emergencies. No nations around the world were prepared for the pandemic, but their follow up measures have made the difference. Bangladesh did use some of its disaster management experience, but proper guideline in any health emergency is a timely need for the government.
We cannot avoid the fact that Coronavirus has caused tremendous damage to our country and society. On the other hand, it has brought people to work together. Due to the spread of the virus, social solidarity and collaboration have increased. We hope the country will learn from the experience of this transformative change, and the societies will become more resilient.
(We acknowledge different sources with gratitude)
The writer is Assistant Professor, Department of Public Administration, Comilla University, Bangladesh. Email:[email protected]
Leave Your Comments