Corona in Bangladesh: “An opportunity for radical changes”

Shafiqul Alam works as a Senior Advisor in the field of sustainable energy at the GIZ Bangladesh. From January 2018 to April 2019 he held a Humboldt Fellowship at the Ecologic Institute in Berlin. He is also an alumnus of the Ecologic Institute and Renewables Academy (RENAC) in Berlin.

How are you now in the Corona crisis?

Initially I was overwhelmed to see the way Covid-19 was wreaking havoc across the world. I started panicking when the first case of an infection was diagnosed in Bangladesh on 8 March 2020. My family and I have since spent more than three months amid this pandemic, and we are feeling calmer now, compared to the first few days.

I used a virtual office right from the start. In addition to my work, I am taking the advantage of digital shopping and related things, instead of going out. Besides being with my family, I allocate time to writing news articles about Covid-19, climate change and sustainable energy.

How is Corona affecting Bangladesh?

As soon as the virus was detected in March 2020, the government of Bangladesh had to intensify its efforts to contain the rate of infection. The government enforced general holidays from 26 March 2020 to ensure that offices were shut down. Non-essential activities and movement were restricted. The decision, whether the economy should be reopened or not, is a real dilemma for the government As the number of infected people is still on the rise, reopening would mean to accept the risk of the disease spreading further. On the other hand, keeping the country in lockdown for an indefinite period, is severely affecting many day laborers and other poor people. Considering the economic factors, the country has been reopened with special directives for people and businesses to practice social distancing. The government is observing the situation carefully to decide about the next steps.

What are your hopes for the future?

I hope that governments will consider sustainability at the core of the packages to revive their economies. It is an opportunity making radical changes to their policies regarding sustainable energy and a green economy.

Additionally, Covid-19 has taught us that most countries are vulnerable in the event of a pandemic. Once the pandemic is over, I expect more investment in healthcare and I hope that all governments will reconsider ways to enhance global cooperation in the health sector.

Interview: Marlene Thiele

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July 2020

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