Revisiting the Impact of COVID-19 on Adolescents in Urban Slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh: Round 2

Since March 2020, Bangladesh’s overall epidemiological context has been one of high infection and low mortality, even though there were fears of higher mortality at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) program, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) and BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health (BRAC JPGSPH) partnered to carry out a rapid-response study in Dhaka, to explore the impact of the pandemic and country-wide lockdown on the lived realities of adolescent boys and girls living in slums and low-income settlements in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This rapid qualitative research was conducted in two phases between April and December 2020, to explore how adolescents and their families experienced the lockdown and income loss, what their coping strategies were, how they dealt with – and continue to deal with – school closures and distance learning, how intra-household relations and community relationships were affected, and how respondents perceived the government’s response to the pandemic. The study found that although the lockdown was eventually lifted and restrictions were minimal, the effect on livelihoods and everyday lives has been significant. Families living in low-income settlements are still struggling to regain their financial stability and repay their debts; which in turn has resulted in an escalation in familial conflict and domestic violence. Even within the sample of adolescents studied we could see that the socio-economic differences between families in these settlements affected nutrition, indebtedness, continuing of education, and access to devices and the internet. As various studies have shown, implementing distance learning to compensate for school closures has been challenging.

Authors: Raha, Samira Ahmed; Rana, Md. Sajib; Mamun, Saklain Al; Anik, Mehedi Hasan; Roy, Prantik; Alam, Farhana; Sultan, Maheen
Type: Policy Brief
Year: 2021