COVID-19 pandemic brings woes to marginal people in Netrakona

December 16, 2020

The article was first published in BSS. Click here to read the original publication.

Day-labourer Sabuj Miah, 40, used to work at a brickfield in Cumilla and when the global coronavirus pandemic started hitting the country in early April this year, he got fever and returned home at Laxmipur village in Netrakona Sadar.

When his condition started deteriorating, he was sent to Netrakona Sadar General Hospital to be tested COVID-19 positive on April 10 in 2020. And it was the first COVID-19 case detected in the district.

Once people got informed that the COVID-19 case was identified here and local administration enforced a lockdown at Laxmipur village, making the inhabitants isolated from other parts of the district.

“My husband returned home from the hospital with COVID-19 negative report after 13 days of his admission there. But he was too weak to walk,” said Ferdousi Chowdhury, a mother of three and wife of Sabuj Miah.

She said when her husband was admitted to the hospital, her three-year-old daughter Tasfia was also diagnosed with coronavirus, which was a double blow for her family.

“Sabuj was the only breadwinner for our family” Ferdousi said, adding: “When my husband was infected with coronavirus, he lost his job. Physically, he was unable to work even after his recover from COVID-19 infection.”

She said the pandemic pushed their life into acute troubles as there was no alternate livelihood. “We had received relief materials from local union parishad but it was too inadequate. Now we depend on the assistance that our relatives give us.”

Ain Uddin, 55, a resident of Laxmipur, said: “As first COVID-19 case of Netrakona was identified in our village, we were not allowed to go to markets and other public spaces. People thought that they would be infected with the deadly virus if they come in contact with us.”

“Even, our relatives brought essential commodities for us and kept those outside our homes, and went away fearing coronavirus infection. Later, we brought the goods in our houses,” he said.

Sohel Rana, a local farmer said, he cultivated watermelon on three bighas of land but he could not sell those due to COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic severely hit our life. During the lockdown, my watermen and vegetables got rotten in the field as I failed to sell those. I had incurred a huge loss and that’s why I took Taka 1.5 lakh loan from Krishi Bank aiming to continue my farming,” he said.

UNDP district facilitator Md Abdur Razzaque said the marginal people in Netrakona were severely affected due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The day-labourers could not go to their works, while farmers did not get agriculture labourers, resulting in low crop production this year, he said, adding that it is hard for them to cope with the adverse consequences of the pandemic.

Razzaque said UNDP is working to strengthen local governmnent institutions here under its Efficient and Accountable Local Governance (EALG) project so that the consequences of the pandemic could be minimised at marginal level.

Chairman of Madanpur Union Parishad Farid Ahmed Fakir said the local administration provided all possible support for the people who were severely affected by the pandemic.

Apart from distribution of coronavirus preventive gears, including masks, hand sanitisers and gloves, he said, essential commodities and vegetables were distributed among 600 families in the areas of his union where lockdown was enforced.

Fakir said village police personnel were also involved in providing services to the affected people there.