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Economic responses to COVID-19 and child sensitive social protection in Bangladesh  

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Bangladesh significantly. The country is experiencing a sharp economic slump, caused by staggering economic activity, collapse of trade, and heightened stress in the financial and banking sectors. Millions of workers in the formal and informal economy struggle to maintain their livelihoods and incomes. Initial estimates indicate that an additional 1.6 to 4.8 million people may become unemployed this year. Remittance flows have also fallen sharply.

Income shocks at the household level, even if only temporary, can have devastating consequences for children. Levels of child poverty are projected to increase by 5 to 27 percentage points. Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic has an indirect effect on child mortality and nutrition, due to disruptions in the health care system and decreased access to food. To provide support to families who will lose their income and to provide an adequate fiscal stimulus to save the economy from deep recession, Bangladesh is going to have to substantially scale up its social security system.

Development Pathways has supported UNICEF Bangladesh in assessing the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and their families. The goal of the project was to aid future planning that adequately addresses local needs by feeding into timely policy and decision-making, evidence and data-driven analysis. The team provided policy advice on social protection responses that help cushion the economic shock. Methodologies utilised include stakeholder consultations and modelling of socio-economic scenarios occurring due to the coronavirus pandemic and assessing the responsiveness of Bangladesh’s existing social protection schemes to support children and families during this period.