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ACAPS Thematic Analysis – Bangladesh: Characteristics of vulnerable households in the Rohingya refugee response

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What are the characteristics that contribute to household vulnerability?

A thematic review of household vulnerability in the Rohingya Refugee Response

This factsheet highlights common household characteristics of vulnerability with the aim of identifying specific needs and support requirements of the most vulnerable. These characteristics are identified through an analysis of major assessments conducted in the last 12 months which investigated household vulnerability. The three households highlighted in this factsheet were commonly identified as most vulnerable in all major assessments reviewed.

Prior to COVID-19, all Rohingya refugees in the camps were vulnerable to some degree; no one’s basic needs were completely fulfilled and everyone experienced safety and security challenges (ACAPS 12/19; ISCG 09/2019; WFP 12/2019; IOM 12/2019). The same can be said for more than 370,000 Bangladeshis in Cox’s Bazar district living under the poverty line and an additional 400,000 estimated to be particularly vulnerable to poverty and other secondary impacts of the pandemic (ISCG 04/2020).

Although the large-scale, blanket coverage programming approach ensures that all households in the camps receive a base level of assistance, some households consistently face greater difficulties meeting certain basic needs than others. This is particularly the case for income generating activities, accessing fresh food to supplement assistance, and accessing preferred health care services.

Rohingya and Bangladeshi households with less access to public space due to mobility restrictions or social norms, as well as those that require regular medical support, are the most at risk as they have greater difficulty accessing assistance and services and have access to fewer income earning opportunities.

While containment measures are essential to reducing the spread of COVID-19, they create barriers to the availability, accessibility, awareness, quality, and utilization of critical services and livelihood opportunities, leading to an immediate and likely long-term decline in wellbeing. Households already struggling to access assistance and services to meet their specific needs are the most gravely impacted and face the highest risk of extreme poverty and severe long-term impacts, such as increased mortality and morbidity.