Almost half of the urban population in Cox's Bazar Sadar (the district city centre) has become vulnerable and struggled to access food during the COVID-19 pandemic due to significant downturns in livelihoods and income, a United Nations World Food Program (WFP) assessment has found. The Cox's Bazar Urban Vulnerability Assessment found that 40 percent of those surveyed have had no income since March and 48 percent have struggled to buy enough food.
As a result, they have been heavily relying on external assistance, including from the Government of Bangladesh and donors. "COVID-19 is more than a health crisis; it is also a socio-economic crisis for millions of people around the world.
Here in Bangladesh, urban populations and those who rely on tourism or the informal wage sector to make a living are the hardest hit," said Sheila Grudem, Senior Emergency Coordinator for WFP in Cox's Bazar.
Daily wage workers have experienced a more than 70 percent drop in income, while those self-employed have seen a 44 percent drop. Business owners and traders have seen income levels drop to two thirds of usual earnings during the lockdowns. In April, WFP launched a program in Cox's Bazar, targeting vulnerable members of the host community through food and cash assistance, complementing the existing distributions made by the Government.
"As part of the COVID-19 response, WFP has provided the local communities with assistance through our livelihoods, school feeding, and disaster risk reduction programmes. Now we are extending this work to cover half a million people in the district, including more than 62,000 people in the Sadar," said Grudem.
---Chanchal Das Gupta, Cox's Bazar
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