A Brac study found that 14 percent of respondents do not have any food at home because of the countrywide shutdown in effect from March 26 to curb the spread of coronavirus.
A press release about the survey issued by Brac yesterday said low-income people are suffering great losses in their earnings since the enforcement of social distancing measures and the countrywide lockdowns that hiked the percentage of people living in extreme poverty to 60 percent.
The survey of 2,675 respondents from a low-income background in all 64 districts was carried out from March 31 to April 5.
Brac's Advocacy for Social Change programme conducted the survey with assistance from other programmes, namely Microfinance, Urban Development Programme and Partnership Strengthening Unit.
According to the survey, the average household income of the respondents was Tk 14,599 before the epidemic. "Of them, 93 percent of the respondents reported a decline in income due to the outbreak. During March 2020, their average income stood at Tk 3,742, which represents an average 75 percent decline from their family income of last month."
It also said due to the shutdown and lockdowns to enforce social distancing measures 72 percent reported job losses or reduced work opportunities.
"Eight percent of the respondents who are still employed have not received their payment."
Non-agricultural wage labour experienced 77 percent more loss of income than wage labourers in agriculture sector.
A total of 51 percent of rickshaw pullers, 58 percent factory workers, 66 percent hotel/restaurant workers, and 62 percent day labourers in non-agricultural sectors reported their income had reduced to zero in the current month.
The survey also found that most people did not have any idea about the directive that one should not directly go to any health facility with symptoms of the infection.
"Only 29 percent said they would ask the patient to call the helpline," it said.
The survey came up with a number of recommendations to overcome the crisis.
It said large-scale awareness campaigns on prevention, management and treatment should run on TV and social media.
"Food assistance must immediately reach the millions of households across the country suffering from acute food shortage. Otherwise they will be compelled to leave home to earn their living in violation of the social distancing measures, increasing the risk of spreading coronavirus," it said.
The survey finds that people who have returned to villages from urban centres are not enrolled in any social safety net programmes and so need proper delivery mechanisms to get food aid immediately.