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Targeting Covid-19 relief payments in Bangladesh

Time (GMT +01) 13:30 15:00
Hero image description: 21 German-supported forecast-based financing in Bogra, Bangladesh, cash distribution pilots during 2016 monsoon flood Image credit:Tanvir Ahmed Rezvi/German Red Cross Image license:Flickr


Mark Miller @_miller_mark – Director of Public Finance and Institutions Programme, ODI

Maria May @MariaMayhem523 – Senior Programme Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


Mushfiq Mobarak @mushfiq_econ – Professor of Economics, Yale University

Anir Chowdhury @anirchowdhury – Policy Adviser, A2i

Asif Saleh @asifsaleh  Executive Director, BRAC

Sabina Rashid  Dean and Professor, James P Grant School of Public Health


Around the world, cash transfers have increasingly been adopted to support incomes of the poorest citizens. However, the economic disruptions and social distancing policies arising from coronavirus is creating new vulnerable groups in need of immediate cash support. This includes informal workers, day laborers, and others whose ability to get by has been challenged by the sudden loss of income. 

A recent survey from Bangladesh found that 63% of low-income households reported complete loss of income once social distancing policies were implemented. In response, the government has committed to support at least 4 million vulnerable families through immediate emergency cash transfers.

How though can the government identify the households who need it the most? These households are not found in traditional social safety net program registries, lack no formal documents about their occupation or business, and are paid in cash, making it hard to verify their income. Ensuring that they have access to emergency cash transfers poses an enormous, urgent challenge to governments looking to support those who need it the most.

This webinar explores:

how should the government navigate tensions between the speed of response, equity concerns and the effectiveness of targeting?how might governments work with different partners (e.g. academics, civil society, telecom operators) to support more effective targeting?given that Bangladesh has a relatively large gender gap in mobile phone ownership, what can the government do to avoid potential exclusion in targeting and access to cash transfers?

This is a joint event co-hosted by ODI, Dhaka Tribune, Yale University South Asian Studies Council and Youth Policy Forum.

ODI is hosting a series of events aimed at supporting policy makers, researchers and practitioners by sharing country lessons around different aspects of the policy response to the coronavirus.