COVID-19 pandemic leads to food insecurity in Cox’s Bazar, says WFP

Cox`s Bazar sea beach.
Cox`s Bazar sea beach. Photo: UNB
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Almost half of the urban population in Sadar upazila of Cox’s Bazar is struggling to have access to food during this COVID-19 pandemic due to significant downslide in livelihoods and income, according to a WFP assessment.

The Cox’s Bazar Urban Vulnerability Assessment found that 40 per cent of those surveyed have had no income since March and 48 per cent struggled to buy enough food.

As a result, they have been heavily relying on external assistance, including from the government of Bangladesh and donors, said the WFP (United Nations World Food Programme) on Monday.

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“COVID-19 is more than a health crisis…it’s also a socio-economic crisis for millions of people around the world. Here in Bangladesh, urban populations and those who rely on tourism or the informal wage sector to make a living are the hardest hit,” said Sheila Grudem, senior emergency coordinator for WFP in Cox’s Bazar.

Daily wage workers have experienced a more than 70 per cent drop in incomes and those self-employed have seen a 44 per cent drop. Business owners and traders have seen income level drop to two-thirds of usual earnings during the lockdowns.

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In April, WFP launched a programme in Cox’s Bazar, targeting vulnerable members of the host community through food and cash assistance, complementing the existing distributions made by the government.

“As part of the COVID-19 response, WFP has provided the local communities with assistance through our livelihoods, school feeding, and disaster risk reduction programmes. Now we’re extending this work to cover half a million people in the district, including over 62,000 in Sadar,” said Grudem.

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