As the Covid-19 pandemic hits Bangladesh’s capital, Friendship is providing relief supplies to its poorest areas.

by Raeed Abd-Allah Chowdhury

Cities across the globe are experiencing the worst social and economic repercussions of Covid-19. Dhaka, one of the most densely populated capitals in the world, is especially vulnerable to a large-scale outbreak. With the majority of Bangladesh’s workforce employed as daily wage labourers, the lockdown has left thousands with no income and in danger of starvation.  

In response, Friendship is providing 10,000 relief packages to 13 slums across Kalachandpur and Mirpur. The packages contain enough vital food and hygiene supplies for a family to survive two weeks in lockdown, including rice, lentils, oil, soap and detergent. Our staff and council volunteers have already distributed 3000 of these packages, with the remainder to be completed in the coming days.

In order to identify the areas most in need of emergency aid, Friendship collaborated with the government to conduct population surveys of low-income areas. Once the most vulnerable neighbourhoods and households had been located, tokens for relief packages were handed out, ready for distribution. 

To guarantee the safety of our staff, volunteers and beneficiaries during the distribution process, Friendship is following strict social distancing protocol. We have ensured that all volunteers and staff are wearing the required Personal Protective Equipment, and that each household receives a bag at their door, rather than having to collect it from a distribution point. To avoid further risk, the parcels are being allocated during curfew hours.

Almost half of the relief parcels were sponsored by private donors who wish to remain anonymous, and the rest were donated by various organisations including Summit, Square, France-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce, Oryx and Unilever.

Whilst attending the distribution the Ward Councillor of Mirpur 14, Md. Humayun Rashid Jony, praised “the magnitude, dedication and sincerity” of Friendship’s efforts, adding “this ward would have been at a loss without the help of our friends in Friendship.” This emergency aid is indeed a lifeline for families facing starvation and illness. However, as the crisis continues to escalate, many throughout the city remain unaddressed and frightened for their future.