ronkko1_INDRANIL MUKHERJEEAFP via Getty Images_indiamobilebankATM Indranil Mukherjee/AFP via Getty Images

Helping the Poor to Survive Lockdown

The Hrishipara Daily Diaries Project has been tracking the daily spending of 60 poor households in rural Bangladesh for the last six years. Analysis of the data collected – especially the changes to spending patterns that have occurred during the pandemic – reveals four areas where policymakers should step in.

HELSINKI – Even as rich countries begin to glimpse the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, developing countries are struggling to contain COVID-19. But there are important lessons from the past year that can help governments to devise more effective policies and programs to support their poorest residents amid continued outbreaks and lockdowns.

One valuable source of such lessons is the Hrishipara Daily Diaries Project (HDDP), which has been tracking the daily financial transactions of 60 poor households in rural Bangladesh for the last six years. Analysis of the data collected – especially the changes to spending patterns that have occurred during the pandemic – reveals four areas where governments should step in.

First, policymakers should ensure access to emergency cash. The rural poor are no strangers to shocks to their livelihoods. Droughts and floods are recurrent features of their lives, as are serious illness and job losses. But they usually have some access to lifelines: they can tap into family-based mutual-aid networks or borrow from microfinance institutions, money lenders, and friends and family.

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