Around 77 percent local and international migrant workers, who returned home, struggled to find work between April and November last year due to the pandemic, says a new survey report.
Among the migrant households with returnees, 61 percent had at least one member who lost a job or earning opportunity, says the report, titled "Demographic and Socio-economic Changes Induced by the Covid-19 Pandemic: Challenges of New Circumstances".
The pandemic had a profound impact on child marriage too.
More than 77 percent of the marriages that took place in those households during the surveyed period had brides under the age of 18, which is 26 percent higher than the 2018 national rate of child marriage, it adds.
Child marriages were found to be more prevalent in rural areas (81 percent) than in urban locations (70 percent).
The outcomes of the research jointly conducted by Brac, UN Women Bangladesh and the Center on International Cooperation at New York University were unveiled at a virtual policy dialogue yesterday, says a press release of the organisations.
The survey was conducted on 6,370 households between December 10 and December 25, 2020.
The study calls for special attention to the impact of Covid-19 on internal and international migration.
The study found that a quarter of the affected households were concerned with repaying migration loans, which amount to an average of Tk 76,000, and a maximum of Tk 7 lakh.
Around 44 percent reported they could not find any income-generating work and some of them were managing expenses by going into their savings or using rent from assets.
The surveyed households reported an average 58 percent decrease in monthly remittance received, a stark contrast to reports of higher flow of remittance nationally during the period.
However, a plausible explanation lies in previous researches that suggest almost half of the remittance received by the households under normal circumstances were through unofficial channels, which were unavailable during the pandemic, it mentioned.
The study found 4.57 percent of the returnees were children (age 5 to 16 years), 13.35 percent (both external and internal) were above 40 year, and 4.56 percent were above 50 years of age.
The female returnees, mostly internal migrants, were subjected to heightened burden during the pandemic, the survey found.
The average monthly savings of households decreased by 62 percent and household debts increased by 31 percent, it says.
Addressing the report unveiling ceremony, Shamsul Alam, member (senior secretary) of General Economic Division at the Bangladesh Planning Commission, said, "Forced migration created frustration among people, particularly women. We have to think over how to create economic opportunities for them."
Shoko Ishikawa, country representative of UN Women Bangladesh, said, "Even without data, child marriage has been a problem. Migrants are seeing stress in loss of income. Social safety nets need to look into how to support these migrant families, for example, creating more jobs and finding the right kind of skills training."