Co-exploring the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the livelihood of persons with disabilities in Bangladesh

Adity Shayontony Das, Fatema Akter Bonny, Arifa Bente Mohosin, Sabina Faiz Rashid, Md Tanvir Hasan


Background: According to World Health Organization (WHO), vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities are facing severe impacts of the pandemic. There has always been significant challenges and hurdles in terms of achieving adequate and equitable inclusivity of persons with disabilities in all sections of social life. Education and employment of persons with disabilities were least focused which created more marginalization for the community. The long term impact of these marginalization has also led to the lack of jobs and social security of persons with disabilities, which is very clear now given the crisis in place. In low and middle income countries like Bangladesh the situation is even worse. To better understand the conditions of persons with disabilities in this crisis situation, the present study was initiated to explore the dimensions of livelihood with respect to income and wellbeing of persons with disabilities and to generate evidence for developing policies around these issues.

Methods: A qualitative study was undertaken among 30 persons with disabilities from 8 different geographical divisions of Bangladesh. The interviews were conducted through telephone calls due to the existing COVID-19 crisis and mobility restrictions. The respondents were purposively selected based on gender, type of disability, area of resident (urban, rural) and their ability to communicate, therefore most (25/30) respondents were persons with physical disability. Thematic analysis was conducted to generate the findings of the study.

Findings: Study findings revealed that majority of the respondents were involved in informal jobs. Predominantly males were daily wage-earners and often the sole breadwinner of the families, very few females were involved in economic activities. Since they had no stable income, the economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic had affected them badly even leading to household level famine. The study identifies low level of education and informal job security as the primary causes of socio-economic insecurity among persons with disabilities, resulting in challenges in ensuring a stable livelihood during crisis situations, such as COVID-19.

Conclusion: Constant alienation of persons of disabilities from the formal sector results in the deterioration of their livelihood standards which even worsen during any emergency crisis such as COVID-19. The study pinpoints that only aided services are not adequate to ensure persons with disabilities' rights rather there is an urgent need of disability inclusion in formal job sector and livelihood training for persons with disabilities. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and to irradiate the inequality towards persons with disabilities in the society it is important for the Government and concern bodies to focus on the inclusiveness with better implementation and monitoring strategies.


Livelihoods; COVID-19; Social Security; Bangladesh

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Copyright (c) 2021 Adity Shayontony Das, Fatema Akter Bonny, Arifa Bente Mohosin, Sabina Faiz Rashid, Md Tanvir Hasan

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