A Rapid Assessment Report: The Impact of COVID 19 and IPs in Bangladesh

Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh are among those who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19 because of several socio-economic factors. Therefore, the COVID-19 lockdown is disproportionately impacting the economic situation of the Indigenous population, who have already been suffering from severe poverty and further exacerbating the poverty rate as they lose their livelihoods and enter debts.

According to the findings, we can note that the measures taken by the government to raise awareness regarding the COVID19 pandemic has been successful but the initiative for relief distribution is lagging behind. We may also conclude that the government’s response to the crises regarding food shortage, healthcare preparedness and overall social protection of the vulnerable indigenous communities has been inadequate.

The Government of Bangladesh has continuously failed to provide social protection to its indigenous population. With regards to implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Bangladesh has been following a “whole of the society” approach, which is failing to address the specialized needs of the marginalized indigenous population. In its 7th (2016-2020) and 8th (2020-2024) Five-Year Plans, in an effort to integrate the Agenda 2030 and the goal of SDGs – “leave no one behind”, the Bangladesh Government has emphasized and pledged to “empower ethnic minorities”. However, although the government took special measures to serve the needs of hard-core poor families via its Social Safety-net projects in 2019-20 accounting for 14.21 per cent of the total budget31, hardly any of these projects were specialized to serve the indigenous communities.

It is also noteworthy that Bangladesh is yet to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the socio-economic and political rights of the country’s Indigenous Peoples remain ignored.

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