The poverty situation in Bangladesh was higher than expected in 2020-21 as the COVID constrained economic activity and reduced incomes. The situation worsened further amid spirals in global food prices in 2022. And the global economic slowdown could push more people into poverty this year.
A researcher at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) shared the findings in a session today at the Annual BIDS Conference on Development taking place at Lakeshore Hotel in Dhaka.
The Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies organised the three-day event that will conclude tomorrow.
“The COVID-19 was the main driver of higher poverty in Bangladesh. But world prices spike in 2022 directly raised the cost of living for many households (accounts for more of rising poverty than GDP losses),” said Angga Pradesha, senior scientist in the Foresight and Policy Modeling Unit at the IFPRI.
He said 27.51 lakh more people fell into poverty in 2022.
“A slowdown in the global economy in 2023 would set Bangladesh back even further,” he said, adding that poor population could increase by another 50,000 in Bangladesh because of the slowdown.
“Most people falling into poverty are in rural areas.”
Angga said the COVID pandemic reversed Bangladesh’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth trends in 2020. And the recovery slowed as world prices spiked in 2022.
Recovery may be further hampered by a slowdown in the global economy in 2023, he said.
The IFPRI scientist said undernourishment worsened in all countries in 2022. In case of Bangladesh, an additional 31 lakh people suffered from undernourishment. The number could rise to 33 lakh in 2023.
“World price spikes are also more important for hunger than for GDP. The COVID caused across-the-board income losses, whereas rising world prices directly raised food prices and reduced households’ food access,” he said.