COVID-19: ‘food insecurity poses greater threat to poor workers’

April 08, 2020

The problems of peasants and daily-wagers, especially in the rural parts of Sindh, have been increasing during the COVID-19 lockdown, as they are already vulnerable enough to face food insecurity,...

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The problems of peasants and daily-wagers, especially in the rural parts of Sindh, have been increasing during the COVID-19 lockdown, as they are already vulnerable enough to face food insecurity, said the Hari Welfare Association (HWA) on Tuesday.

HWA President Akram Khaskheli fears that if the lockdown continued without proper provision of food support to this segment of society, their conditions can turn like that of the people of drought-hit Tharparkar.

Khaskheli observed that the existing ration support is not enough because it can barely last less than a week in an average family, while the closure of economic engines has been compounding the people’s miseries.

He welcomed the Sindh government’s efforts but expressed wariness that the composition of the relief committees at the levels of districts, talukas, union committees and wards can be politically influenced.

“These committees have completely ignored the genuine poor peasants and daily-wage workers, and only those families are provided with some ration support who have political backing,” he claimed.

He said that although the minimum wage in the province has been set at Rs17,500 a month, the government has pledged to provide financial support of Rs2,000, which is completely insufficient. He demanded that the unprivileged section of society should instead be provided with the minimum wage so that they can make both ends meet to an extent.

Khaskheli said the sanitary workers employed at quarantine centres in the rural parts of the province are at a higher risk of catching the novel coronavirus because they do not have any protective gear or medical safety.

He laments that peasants’ produce is sold at the lowest prices, even though the cost of agricultural input is higher. “Majority of them are looking towards the government to support them in threshing wheat crop because the cost has doubled due to the non-availability of tractors and threshers.”



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