Dhaka, 29 June 2020 - As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten communities globally, especially high-risk urban populations including migrant workers, street hawkers and people with low strata of income, it’s no different in Bangladesh. Like in other countries, Bangladeshi urban communities and labor force have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, with widespread layoffs leaving many in a precarious financial situation, unable to meet their basic needs.
On 29 June, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) delivered the first round of cash assistance to vulnerable urban communities located in Dhaka South City Corporation with support of German Red Cross. These urban communities have lost their incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the country was under general holidays for almost two and half months. Based on the minimum expenditure basket, each individual received 5,000 BDT to enable them to meet essential needs such as food, medicines and other utilities.
This cash grant support was provided as part of repurposed intervention towards COVID-19 response by BDRCS with support from German Red Cross who leads on a Consortium project called Dhaka Earthquake and Emergency Preparedness -Enhancing Resilience (DEEPER) with other partners such as, British Red Cross, Christian Aid and Action Contre La Faim (ACF) and IFRC as technical partner. This redirected intervention is ongoing since early April with psychosocial support through online counselling and awareness raising on COVID-19 through information, education and communication materials.
Md. Feroz Salah Uddin, BDRCS Secretary General said,
“Cash distribution is one of the key response strategies of the BDRCS. It contributes towards community empowerment and thereby upholding the localization approach. This cash grant support benefiting 1800 HH will help in the provision of basic essentials of life.
A comprehensive selection criterion was developed focusing on the households affected and/or displaced due to COVID-19. Priority was given to households living on day labor or charity and loss of income; female-headed poor households (including widow, divorced, separated, single women)
Ward Counselor from Ward 27 - Mr Omar Bin Abdul Aziz said:
“1,800 Households with different socio-economic status particularly urban migrant labourers, slum dwellers and single headed, women led households were targeted in this phase by BDRCS and the Consortium and support was extended. This support is very timely. People were cashless for months now. This will help them to buy basic commodities.”
The recipients of the cash support are local communities of Dhaka South City Corporation living in 18 wards wherein BDRCS is implementing the earthquake preparedness project for few years. A list of 9,000 households was received by the Dhaka City Unit of BDRCS for assistance. Out of which 1,800 households were provided cash grants as per criterions.
German Red Cross Senior Representative Gaurav Ray said:
“Urban communities are among those who have been especially hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak in Bangladesh. Many of the poor families live hand to mouth under highly precarious settings. The loss of income and livelihoods has exacerbated their vulnerabilities.”
We would continue to look for more resources to cover more families in future with cash grant support and compliment the BDRCS efforts to reduce suffering in this difficult time,” said Gaurav Ray.
Urban poor also face more health threats from COVID-19 because most often they live in vulnerable conditions such as crowded living conditions and barriers to accessing health services. That’s why we also set up on-line counseling service through trained phycologists as well as provided Information Education Communications materials on myth busters of COVID19, Said the DRR Delegate for German Red Cross- Jalil Lone
The documentation process of 1800 HH is under way. Cash Grant has been disbursed already to 700 HH while remaining will be done in next two days. This initial round of emergency financial assistance for 1500 of urban poor took place in Dhaka with funding from European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO)
German Red Cross has been in Bangladesh for more than 30 years working in partnership with BDRCS and as a member of the IFRC. GRC has been supporting humanitarian assistance projects in Cox Bazar supporting population movement operations and also working in coastal and flood prone districts through Forecast Based Financing programmes through Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.