Policymakers should focus more on newly-vulnerable population alongside the pre-existing marginalised groups while framing strategies for the pandemic recovery, experts have said.
They also said many people, who were pushed to the edge owing to Covid-19, require effective policy support in the areas of education and skills, employment, basic health and nutrition, and access to digital tools.
To speed up economic recovery, they said ensuring access to finance for returned migrant workers and entrepreneurs in the cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) sector would be the best options.
The observations came at a virtual dialogue on “The COVID-19 Discourse: Are we asking the right questions?” organised by Citizens’ Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh on Tuesday.
Chaired by the platform’s convener Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, the event was also addressed by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) distinguished fellows Professor Rounaq Jahan and Professor Mustafizur Rahman, and senior research associates Sarah Sabin Khan and Towfiqul Islam Khan.
Dr Bhattacharya said policies for the post-COVID era need adjustments and revisions to safeguard people who have been left vulnerable and achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Policies should put emphasis more on the SGDs’ motto of leaving no one behind as well as new people going below the poverty line during the pandemic, who are now categorised under the push no one behind the group, he said.
Referring to the paucity of data in most of the indicators in the country, he said, “We will check in other ongoing studies on the pandemic-related issues to reduce the limitation of a data gap.”
There are scopes for generating more data on Covid-19 casualties and infections rate on the leave no one behind groups through the household survey, which can be later synced with the government data.
“Giving the right question is much more important than finding the right answer, so we are trying to formulate the right questions before commencing our study,” he noted.
Ms Khan presented the keynote on the proposed study on examining the Covid-19 impact on both the groups.
She said the Covid-19 pandemic has derailed countries off their development trajectories and disrupted pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the pledge to LNOB groups.
The impact of the pandemic on the least developed countries like Bangladesh will be worse given their structural disadvantages and pre-existing challenges in different sectors.
She said when LNOB groups are already in vulnerabilities due to religious and ethnic identity, occupation, income, age, health, geographic location, gender, education and skills, disability, civil identity, etc, PNOB groups have joined them with new types of vulnerabilities mainly due to job and income loss.