Surviving the Hunger Pandemic

The community of Char Borobila hasn’t been the same since the pandemic hit. 

Nestled in the north of Bangladesh on the banks of the Brahmaputra river, the community is historically poor. They deal with riverbank erosion, poor communication structures, and neglect from the government. Many community members are day labourers, working for money they will use to buy food that same day. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns, curfews, and restricted travel, the economy slowed down. Markets closed. Now farmers can’t pay labourers. And the people are starting to feel the pangs of hunger that come with going with too little for too long.

Mala Begum is a leader in the community. She describes her family’s situation, “My husband works as a day labourer in the city shop which is our only source of income. Since the shops have closed, the income has stopped. We wanted to sell our cattle but were strictly prohibited from going to the market. And if you manage to go, there will be no customers to buy cattle. On the other hand, there is no food at home! I was wondering what I could do.”

This time of hunger comes at the same time as Ramadan where many families fast as part of their religious practice. Mala says: “It’s Ramadan season and without saheri [breakfast] we have to keep fasting.”

Hunger and food insecurity are not issues only in Char Borobila. Across much of the world, millions of people are fearing what an economic recession could mean for their survival. David Beasley of the World Food Programme warns of the serious consequences related to the economic fallout of the pandemic. “If we lost our funding … a minimum 30 million would die. Over a three-month period, that would be 300,000 people dying per day,” Beasley says.

During this time of great fear for families in many partner communities, Food or the Hungry supports organizations like the CBO (Community-Based Organizations) to provide hope to hungry families. By  

Community members are benefiting from Community Based Organizations which have helped them to save money over the years, providing them with financial security during an uncertain time. 

CBO President Sahidul Islam said, “We have learned from FH to help each other in distress and solving our own problems. Without Food for the Hungry, we would not be able to deliver relief. We have accumulated unity and strengthened ourselves through FH.”

Together with CBO, Food for the Hungry Bangladesh is making a difference. Sahidul Islam continues, “I felt like it’s a time of testing; during this stressful condition through coronavirus, God is testing us how far we stretch ourselves in supporting one another. In April, CBO provided a grant to 696 members, obeying God by helping the helpless.”

This aid helps families like Mala’s and Sahazon’s, who no longer have income. Money used to purchase life-saving necessities is recirculated into the local economy. 

“With this money we have been able to meet our needs, especially the purchase of children’s food” added by Sahanaz Parvin. 

When Mala Begum received aid, she regained hope for her family’s future. She adds, “You cannot imagine what a benefit it was! During this critical time CBO has helped the poor and helpless people which is truly commendable. Thank you FH… without you it would not be possible!”

There is hope for the families of Char Borobila, despite the grim forecast of a hunger pandemic. Families have come together to support and care for each other, to share what they have. 

To help families like Mala’s survive the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, go to www.fhcanada.org/emergencies.

To send nutritious soup mix to families in Guatemala and Burundi struggling with food security, go to fhcanada.org/soup.



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Food for the Hungry: Surviving the Hunger Pandemic
Surviving the Hunger Pandemic
Food for the Hungry
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