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Public servant supporting COVID-19 relief efforts in remote Bangladesh

Posted: 30 October 2020

Bangladesh, Alumni, COVID-19, Impact,

Australia Awards alumna Tania Ferdous has been contributing to Bangladesh’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a vital participant in government-led relief initiatives such as distributing financial assistance.

During the crucial first months of the pandemic, Tania was working as a Senior Assistant Commissioner and Executive Magistrate in Rangpur, a district in northern Bangladesh that witnessed a high number of COVID-19 positive cases. In addition to performing her regular magisterial duties, Tania used her leadership skills to motivate people to follow safety protocols such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. She also worked on practical and legal initiatives to maintain market stability.

In addition to the health crisis, the low-income population in Bangladesh faced a severe financial crisis during the lockdown period, due to their income-generating opportunities being put on hold. Tania ensured that these affected people received government support with minimal delays—and that the process was transparent, increasing confidence that the relief only benefited those eligible.

Tania was also involved in implementing other key government initiatives to assist low-income populations, including open market sales by Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB). This government intervention ensures that low-income groups can purchase daily essential items at prices below those available at other outlets. During the pandemic, the number of TCB sale points and locations doubled, with more being added in remote areas of the country in particular.

Tania completed a Master of Development Studies from Macquarie University in 2018. “My education in Australia has helped me grasp the true meaning, objectives and scope of the development policies and how these are affecting the economy and society in the long run,” she says.

While working to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, she has used her academic knowledge and firsthand experience in the field to understand the relevance of sustainability in development work. During her master’s degree study, she learnt about development challenges such as displacement, social impact and health hazards—issues that she is now witnessing and managing in her current role.

“I hope Bangladesh can restore economic development and growth in the aftermath of the pandemic, with an increased focus on health and social security,” she says, emphasising the latter. “I have tried to make people understand that development cannot be measured by economic growth alone.”

Tania encourages the public to remain strong, patient and responsible for their actions in the coming months.

“During a pandemic, we must take care of those who are less privileged, so they are not left behind,” she says. “I am in a privileged position, and that helps me motivate and give hope to people as I work closely with people from the rural area.”

Her love for both her family and her country have been key factors in maintaining her own motivation during the crisis. From the emergence of the pandemic in Bangladesh in February, her work kept her separated from her family until July. Although it was difficult to be apart from her loved ones, with social media and online communication as her only means of staying connected with them, Tania saw it as her duty as a civil servant. At this stressful time in history, she remains dedicated to serving the citizens of Bangladesh to the best of her ability, even if that requires personal sacrifices.