Low-income People During COVID-19 Pandemic: They Flinched, But Didn’t Stop

Garment workers return from a workplace as factories reopened after the government has eased the restrictions amid concerns over the COVID-19. Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain/ File Photo

They are seeking incentive assistance from the government to start small businesses

By Shafiqul Islam

November 06, 2020 | Dhaka, Bangladesh

Many low-income people in Bangladesh have lost their jobs since the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic. But over the time, they could manage to find a way to make a living.

Ratul Hasan, 31, who used to work in a cosmetics company in Dhaka, was forced to quit his job suddenly after the COVID-19 outbreak in Bangladesh. Later he came to Dhaka again this month after spending six months at home without any job.

“How long would I sit like this? You can’t survive without a minimum amount of money. I have to do something for me and my family. Hope that I could get a work to survive,” he said with a sigh.  

45-year-old Imam Hasan ran a small restaurant in the Jahangirnagar University area of Dhaka. But his business remained close since March this year after the Corona spreads countrywide.

Subsequently, he borrowed money from an NGO and has started a new street food business in the local market. 

“Suddenly I feel like I fall into the deep sea”, Imam Hasan said, “I’ve to look after my 70-year-old mother, wife and three children. Now I’m going towards an uncertain journey with a little hope.”

He said that he didn’t get any help from the government agencies.

“If the government gave some remuneration, people like us would survive in a way,” he added.

Matin Sarkar doesn’t even want to talk to this reporter for the very first time, but later, he revealed his misery due to the pandemic. [Photo: Shafiqul Islam]

Former small business entrepreneur Matin Sarkar (35) was fixing his mask while taking pictures of rickshaw pullers in the Savar bus stand of Dhaka.

“I used to run a small clothing business in the university area. But soon after the Corona spreads, my business also gets closed. Now I turned myself into a rickshaw puller only because of my stomach.”

“Many of my neighborhood look down on rickshaw pullers, so I always remain in an embarrassing situation,” he explained the reason for his mask-fixing.

Food seller-turned-garment worker Rozina Begum, 39, had a happy time with her daughter and two little sons. But since the lockdown imposed countrywide in March, her business also closed down.

Rozina said, “I had a hard time since march to July this year. After that I came to manage a job in a garment company that save the four lives in my family.”

What do the data say?

A world Bank study, published in September 2020, says around 68 percent of the people, who were working in urban areas of Dhaka and Chattogram, have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, reports The Daily Star.

Another research, jointly done by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in August 2020, shows that around 1.7 million youths in Bangladesh may lose jobs this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Business Standards reports.

According to a survey by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) published in June 2020, about 13 percent of people have become unemployed in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.