The Centre for Peace and Justice, Brac University (CPJ) organised a virtual Policy Clinic to present and validate the findings and draw policy recommendations for the research “Voices from the Margins and Inclusive Policy Responses to Covid-19 Pandemic” on 15 September 2021. This research is funded by the Covid Collective platform of Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex and FCDO, UK.
The research looks at three strata of marginalised groups namely, (i) ethnic and religious minorities, (ii) rural poor, and (iii) urban slum dwellers both quantitatively and qualitatively. Female headed household and persons with disabilities were considered as two cross cutting groups. The survey placed special emphasis to cover both poverty prone areas and geographically remote areas where the concentration of these marginalised communities is relatively higher.
The Policy Clinic is an innovative technique to analyse, curate and validate evidence, frame policy choices and draft evidence-based policy alternatives, by bringing various stakeholders including academics, researchers, public health experts, bureaucrats, rights activists, journalists and community leaders. This first of the three planned policy clinics was held on a virtual platform for three hours and comprised of three sessions – presentation and validation of the research findings, the breakout rooms focusing on identifying policy gaps and formulating alternative policy recommendations and plenary session consolidating the feedback from the two breakout sessions and identified key priority themes for policy responses.
The first survey findings indicate that there is a good understanding of Covid-19 disease amongst the surveyed marginalised communities who are aware of the common symptoms. However, predisposition to superstitious belief also prevails. The vaccine uptake rate among the eligible household members of marginalised community is also low (10% as of 15 June 2021). The impact and vulnerability abound. Experiencing loss of income is very common and magnitude of this loss is also significant (25%). With such grave impact 28% surveyed households reported of receiving some kind of government support packages while financial assistance through mobile banking is found to be very popular (90%).
During the Policy Clinic, the research findings were presented by the lead researcher, Muhammad Badiuzzaman while the research team responded to the questions, and queries raised in the validation session. Manzoor Hasan OBE, Executive Director of CPJ, moderated the Policy Clinic.
The Policy Clinic members were very vocal about the timely initiative of bringing the voice of the marginalised communities in the mainstream discussion and thereby in the policy tables. They validated the survey findings, suggested deeper analysis of the data and identified areas for further exploration. There were strong suggestions on community specific policies and solutions informed by the needs of those. They also emphasized on building a joint platform to amplify the voice of the margins and bridge gaps with the policy makers. CPJ will work with Policy Clinic Members to do evidence-based policy advocacy with the government and relevant agencies to formulate inclusive policy responses towards Covid-19 pandemic for the marginalised communities. CPJ will also publish a policy brief based on the discussions and recommendations of the policy clinic members.