Distinguished Professor Dr. Ali Riaz joined a webinar on the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19) on Bangladesh. The webinar, “Vulnerable Populations and COVID-19: Bangladesh During a Global Pandemic,” was organized by the Institute for South Asia Studies and the Center for Bangladesh Studies of the University of California, Berkeley on May 27.

Riaz discussed how COVID-19 has dramatically increased the number of poor people in Bangladesh and has affected their livelihoods due to a halt in economic activities. It is estimated that the number of people living below the poverty line in Bangladesh has doubled to 68 million in the past weeks. Although the Bangladesh government has declared various stimulus packages amounting to $11.6 billion, roughly 3.3% of the gross domestic product, management and distribution weaknesses coupled with an absence of transparency and accountability are precluding the benefits from reaching the most vulnerable.

The participants of the webinar included Sabina Rashid, dean and professor of BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Bangladesh; Naomi Hossain, senior professorial lecturer of the School of International Service, American University; and Mabrur Ahmed and Rahima Begum, founders/co-directors of the Restless Beings, United Kingdom. Sanchita Saxena, the director of the Bangladesh Center, moderated the event.