Firoz Ahmed (Khulna University, Bangladesh)
Asad Islam (Monash University, Australia)
Debayan Pakrashi (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India)
Tabassum Rahman (University of Newcastle, Australia)
Abu Siddiquek (Technical University of Munich, Germany)
The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has brought about unprecedented challenges to the food security situation, particularly in the developing world. The United Nations (UN) estimates that more than a quarter of a billion people could face starvation during the pandemic (UN, 2020). To provide rapid evidence on the determinants and dynamics of food insecurity and to understand the coping strategies adopted by rural households during the pandemic, we collaborating with the Khulna University, Bangladesh; Monash University, Australia; Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India; University of Newcastle, Australia; and Technical University of Munich, Germany are carrying out a telephone survey in rural households in Bangladesh, three weeks after the country went into lockdown. We are conducting this study in Bangladesh for a number of reasons.
First, Bangladesh started implementing countrywide lockdown measures from 26 March 2020 due to the pandemic, 18 days after detecting its first COVID-19 positive patient (WHO Bangladesh, 2020). Second, households in Bangladesh had low food security before the pandemic. It ranked 83 out of 113 countries globally, and the situation was worse than many other neighboring countries, such as India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Myanmar (Global FoodSecurity Index, 2019). Third, 13 million people are already out of work with no fallbacks and an additional 5 million people are expected to be in extreme poverty due to COVID19 in Bangladesh (Shah, 2020; Abi-Habib, 2020). Therefore, the adverse effects of such a countrywide lockdown may extend beyond income shocks and may also affect people’s food insecurity that will only deteriorate further if new policies to protect the vulnerable are not implemented at the earliest.
However, in this implemented project, we are trying to explore the determinants and dynamics of food insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis using data collection in two waves from rural households in Bangladesh. More specifically, we explore the factors that determine food insecurity across rural households during the crisis, coping strategies adopted by them, and how food insecurity transitions over time. Also, we are attempting to identify those most at risk of severe hunger and food insecurity in a vulnerable population so that households can be quickly identified, effective policies can be designed, and resources can be allocated at the earliest before hunger and malnutrition in its worst forms manifest in the time of such a crisis.