This report presents the findings from telephone interviews with 91 representatives from 15 Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) partners in Bangladesh, to ask about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on persons with disabilities in Bangladesh.
The report finds that, in the Covid-19 pandemic, some persons with disabilities experience double jeopardy—not only are persons with disabilities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, but they are also disproportionately excluded from protection and survival support.
Persons with disabilities report being disproportionately excluded from Covid-19 support. 63% of respondents report not receiving the same protection and survival support as others. Two-thirds of those who described their personal experiences reported supply shortage or diversion of essential food and medical supplies as reasons for why they had been excluded.
Relief that has been provided has not met need. Many respondents (84%) report that survival support does not meet their basic needs. Support received has mostly been food instead of cash. Some (17%) report difficulty in following Covid-19 advice, mostly because they cannot afford protection materials.
Persons with multiple disabilities are being left further behind. Respondents with multiple functional difficulties experience more exclusion than respondents with one functional difficulty. This finding of disproportionate exclusion is statistically significant and consistent with qualitative responses, which show that most of those that did report challenges in following received advice were persons with multiple functional difficulties. This strongly suggests that persons with multiple functional difficulties experience more barriers. Persons with multiple functional difficulties who were excluded tended to report difficulties in communicating, remembering, self-care and walking.
The economic impact of the pandemic is acute for persons with disabilities. On average, respondents report losing 65% of their income since the Covid-19 crisis began, which in absolute terms, after adjusting for purchase power parity, is the equivalent of moving from £167 to £58 in monthly earnings.
Some respondents report that they are skipping meals and going hungry. Anecdotal reports reveal that families are reverting to one main meal every two days, or two main meals every three days. Many are borrowing and relying on family support to meet their daily needs to survive, and some of those who already depended on family support have had that support reduced or withdrawn. On balance, future plans reflect a sense of precarity due to uncertainty, ranging from feelings of hope with specific plans to powerlessness with no plans.
Government can do more. Many respondents said government should prioritise persons with disabilities and provide more relief. Many voiced concerns about how relief was being distributed or stolen, and that it is not reaching those most in need. The majority of respondents said that NGOs and wealthy people should play a role in support efforts.