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Quantifying the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns

Farmers participate in a training session from CIMMYT in the village of Boiragee, in Bangladesh's Dinajpur district, in 2011. 

Over a third of the 61 million people who make up Bangladesh’s labor force are paid daily. A nationwide lockdown from March 26 to May 30, 2020, restricted the spread of COVID-19 but, without adequate support, daily-wage workers faced severe food and nutrition insecurity.

In a study published in PLOS ONE, Khondoker Mottaleb, agricultural economist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), examined the food security and welfare impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns on daily-wage workers in Bangladesh — both in farming and other sectors. With comparatively lower resources than salaried and self-employed workers, daily-wage workers are more likely to be hit hardest by COVID-related loss in earnings.

Using information from more than 50,000 workers in Bangladesh, collected by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the study quantified the economic losses from COVID-19 lockdowns, based on daily-wage workers’ lost earnings.

The authors estimated that each day of complete lockdown represented an economic loss of $64.2 million for all daily-wage workers — on average, more than $3 per worker per day.

Researchers also calculated the subsidies needed to ensure basic food and nutrition security during the lockdown period. After assessing the daily per capita food expenditure for farm and non-farm households, the study estimated the need for a minimum compensation of around $1 per day for each household supported by daily-wage workers.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to threaten already vulnerable food systems around the world, CIMMYT remains committed to its mission of achieving food security and improving livelihoods around the world through science. Understanding the impacts of global shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic remains a crucial part of this research agenda.

In Bangladesh, CIMMYT contributes to food and nutritional security and improved livelihoods. Through collaborative research and partnerships, CIMMYT advances sustainable agricultural practices, including improved varieties. CIMMYT works to bolster the productivity of cereal-based farming systems, to improve value chains and market development, and to empower farmers and service providers with personalized advice.

Cover image: Farmers participate in a training session from CIMMYT in the village of Boiragee, in Bangladesh’s Dinajpur district, in 2011.