Around 77% of the returnee migrants in Bangladesh were struggling to find jobs between April and November last year because of Covid-19 pandemic, says a study.
Among the migrant households with returnees, 61% had at least one member who lost a job or earning opportunity during the pandemic.
More than three-fourth (77%) of the marriages that took place in households during surveyed period had brides who were under the age of 18, which is 26% higher than the national rate of child marriage (51%) in 2018.
Child marriages were found to be more prevalent in rural areas (81%) than in urban locations (70%).
These are the outcomes of a research jointly conducted by BRAC, UN WOMEN Bangladesh and the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.
The research looks into the changes in demographic, economic, and social environments in secondary towns, peri-urban (upazila), and rural areas brought on by the reverse migrations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The findings of the research titled “Demographic and socio-economic changes induced by the Covid-19 pandemic: Challenges of new circumstances” was unveiled at a virtual policy dialogue on Saturday.
A panel of distinguished experts, academics, policymakers, and development professionals shared their valuable insights at the dialogue.
They also discussed the policy priority areas identified by the study findings and way forward.
Dr. Shamsul Alam, Member (Senior Secretary), General Economics Division, Planning Commission, attended the dialogue as the chief guest.
Representatives from the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (SANEM), Dhaka University, the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, UN Women Bangladesh Office, UNDP Bangladesh, and BRAC joined as discussants.
A survey was conducted with 6,370 households during 10-25 December 2020 as part of the study that applied both quantitative and qualitative techniques.
The survey considered April-November 2020 as a reference period.
The study calls attention specifically to the impact of the Covid-19 on internal and international migration, including returnee migrants who were forced to return to their places of origin due to various circumstances during the pandemic.
One-fourth (25%) of returnee migrant households are concerned over repaying their outstanding migration loans, which amount to an average of BDT 76,000 (around USD 900), and a maximum of BDT 700,000 (around USD 8300), the study found.
Around 44% reported that they could not find any income-generating work and some of them are managing expenses by withdrawing from savings or using rent from assets.