Responses to Social and Political Impact of COVID-19 in Bangladesh: What do we know so far?

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) hosted a roundtable discussion on Responses to Social and Political Impact of COVID-19 in Bangladesh: What do we know so far? on September 12. 

Participants at the roundtableincluding representatives from government agencies and leading research institutions of the country—discussed the new findings from the COVID-19 Learning, Evidence, and Research (CLEAR) programme in Bangladesh. Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK government, the CLEAR programme is led by IDS in collaboration with BIGD, aiming to support an evidence-informed COVID-19 response and recovery in Bangladesh.

Dr Sohela Nazneen, Research Fellow at IDS and Programme Lead for the CLEAR, shared a summary of the findings from the research programmes supported by CLEAR, shedding light on the multifaceted impacts of the pandemic on Bangladesh. Apart from continuing evidence of a new category of poor people struggling to access government assistance, research findings show that economic recovery is slow as people are trapped in debt, depleting their social and family networks, thereby leading to concerns about long term consequences on their next generations. The findings also showed measures that worked well for Bangladesh in terms of COVID-19 response and recovery, citing the rolling out of accountability mechanisms and digital health services as key examples.

While moderating the discussion, Executive Director of BIGD, Dr Imran Matin, said, “It is our hope that the knowledge and recommendations generated through this discussion will inform evidence-based policymaking and interventions aimed at addressing the challenges posed by the pandemic.” 

Dr Sohela Nazneen added, “The impacts brought on by COVID-19 are not necessarily over. We continue to face multiple crises such as price hikes and job losses, resulting in depletion of resources and establishing a sense of uncertainty. Specific groups such as the new urban poor and children living in slums require targeted attention with respect to health services, social protection, and access to education.”

The CLEAR research projects evolved around four broad thematic areas including: poverty and vulnerability; service delivery, accountability, and governance; rights of marginalized populations and disadvantaged groups; and innovations.

Representatives from government agencies included: Mr. Animesh Biswas from the Directorate General of Health Services, Mr. Khan M. Nurul Amin, ndc, from the Ministry of Planning, Mr. Rokunul Haque from the Department of Social Services, and Ms. Razia Sultana Iti from Dhaka North City Corporation. Researchers from the CLEAR program grantees included: Ms. Maheen Sultan from BIGD, Mr. Miguel Loureiro from IDS, Mr. Md. Mostafizur Rahman from the Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Ms. Farzana Misha from the BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH), Mr. Md. Tuhin Ahmed from the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), and Marium Ul-Mutahara from Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF).