Women gather to collect cash through a mobile wallet under the governmental Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme for families in need during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Rawalpindi on April 14, 2020. (Photo by Farooq NAEEM / AFP)

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) released data on the impact of COVID-19 on the population. The statistics reveal a grim picture where most of the population has been severely impacted by the pandemic in terms of income, health and welfare. 

PBS data revealed that the pandemic caused 20.6 million people lost their jobs or sources of income whereas a further 6.7 million people had a decrease in their income. The job sectors that had the highest number of lay-off were manufacturing (26% of the total job loss), construction (20%), and transport and storage (17%). 

The total number of households impacted by job loss and reduction of income numbered around 17.07 million. 

But perhaps the most startling revelation in the data was the fact that 40% of Pakistani households were food insecure during the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. 30% of Pakistani households suffered from moderate food insecurity, whereas 10% suffered from severe food insecurity. Moderate food insecurity is characterized by irregular food consumption due to lack of resources and access, whereas severe food insecurity is the inability to eat for a day or more due to poverty or lack of access. 

The data reveals that the Rs144 billion Ehsaas Relief Programme and the Rs50bn given to banks for distribution of Rs12,000 four-month stipend among the families of poor and daily-wage earners by the federal government failed to adequately respond to the situation and millions of Pakistani households hungry and impoverished. 


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