Dhaka, May 12, 2020: A recent survey finds that, about 63% of coastal poor households have borrowed loans at high-interest rates from local moneylenders due to lack of institutional credit facilities. The survey also finds 57% of households in the food crisis because of the lockdown, and about 46% of households experienced increased violence against women. The Monitoring and Research Department of the COAST Trust, a Bangladeshi NGO, conducted the survey. COAST surveyed in eight coastal districts to know the impact on the livelihoods of poor people from the coastal areas because of the lockdown announced in the country to prevent the coronavirus infection.
Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director, of COAST, said that a local moneylender killed a poor man recently in Kutubdia, Cox’s Bazar, the poor man the family head failing to repay the loan he had taken. We conducted this survey to understand the plight of low-income people for lockdown. He added that COAST Trust has so far donated about TK 20 lakh from its fund to the relief fund of 9 coastal districts and 49 sub-district administrations to help people in need of food.
According to the COAST Trust’s Monitoring and Research Department, the survey collected data from 240 poor, women-headed, and low-income families under 12 branches of the organization in six districts, including Chottogram, Noakhali, and Barisal. 83% of respondents live in villages and 17% in cities. 57.3% of respondents are women-headed families.
According to the survey, 42% of the families can continue their meals for 3 times a day, which is normal. 52% of families are eating twice a day and 5% of families are taking one meal per day. 56% of families used to eat regular protein i.e. fish, meat, or eggs 3-4 days a week which came down to 13% because of lockdown. 87% of households now consume such protein 1-2 days a week.
Because of the lockdown, 34% of households have lost their income completely, income has come down by one-fourth to 39%, and half for 19% families. This picture is unique to women-headed families. 46% of households has lost their income completely, income has dropped to one-fourth for 30% of households.
63% of the households have taken loans from moneylenders at high-interest rates to cope with the crisis. 18% of households have borrowed from relatives and 13% of households have received no loan.
48% of households have broken down their savings in response to the crisis caused by the lockdown. 35% of the families sold their cows and goats. Among women-headed households, 30% of respondents said there was no way to break their savings, sell cows or goats or jewelry.
54% of respondents said that the lockdown has increased the incidence of violence against women in their families. In 82% of households, abusive or abusive language was used. 9% of households have raised their hands and 9% of households have been pressured for dowry.
When asked what they plan to do if the lockdown continues, 78% of households say they may need to take out a loan from an NGO or bank. If not, they will take a loan from a local moneylender at a high-interest rate. Besides, 38% of households said that they should break the remaining savings down. 20% of households will sell cows, goats, or jewelry. 15% will sell labor in advance to the local moneylenders, while in women-headed households, the rate is 18%.
94% of households have sought various types of loan support from NGOs, which were closed during the data collection. 41% of respondents asked for a new loan, 13% asked for an ongoing loan increase and 43% asked for a cooperative loan or financial support. Note that most of the borrowers will invest for their livelihood. 69% of the families have sought relief from the government in this situation and 21% of the families have sought cash support.
The Department of Monitoring and Research of COAST says, low-income people in the food crisis want to invest in small businesses to turn around. That is why they need a loan. In the absence of micro-credit or other institutional credit arrangements, they will have to borrow from local moneylenders at high-interest rates or will be more at risk of breaking up savings.
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