Given the mounting livelihood challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, low-income households in Bangladesh had to put forward various coping strategies to provide for themselves. This study assesses these efforts. Based on a quantitative survey, supplemented by qualitative tools, it studies how garment workers, urban informal workers, and returnee migrants coped with the first wave of the pandemic. A set of indicators, namely access to social safety net programs, access to emergency relief, community support, food and nutrition intake pattern, usage of savings, indebtedness, and alternative livelihood, were used to measure the coping mechanisms used by these low-income households. In addition to professional and other characteristics, the “gendered behavior” of households’ coping strategies were assessed. To what extent the formal and informal institutions have played roles to mitigate the financial and other needs of the households during the pandemic were discussed. The study also captured households’ perception of the potential hardships they could face if the pandemic were to be prolonged. Findings show that while all professional groups suffered during the pandemic, urban informal workers and returnee migrants struggled the most to cope with the pandemic. The study reveals mixed results showing how male and female respondents used coping strategies. The role of formal institutions has been limited to mitigate financial and other shocks, as households relied heavily on informal channels. Based on the findings, the study offers policy recommendations that could help mitigate the economic difficulties of the low-income groups.
JBS Vol 23. Num 1. 2021. Article 5 - Coping Strategies of Low-Income Households in Bangladesh During COVID