CBM leads disability inclusive response during global pandemic

Stories | January 15, 2021

CBM’s Inclusion Advisory Group partners with the disability movement to influence organisations, institutions and systems to realise the rights of persons with disabilities and work for a more inclusive world. 2020 was our busiest year yet, shifting our efforts in the midst of a global pandemic to focus on disability inclusive COVID-19 response and recovery.

Early in the picture we undertook rapid assessments of the impacts of COVID-19 on people with disabilities living in countries in the Indo-Pacific region and gathered information from disability movement stakeholders in nine countries (Indonesia, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu). We also drew on our networks and close connections with organisations of people with disabilities (OPDs) and disability self-advocates to gain valuable first-hand information. So, what did we learn?

  1. Firstly, that people with disabilities continued to be amongst the most vulnerable populations in the COVID-19 pandemic. This was due to various barriers accessing health risk information, equipment and practices to prevent transmission of disease, continually disrupted access to disability-specific and general support services needed for independence and to maintain good health.
  2. Secondly, many people with disabilities have experienced immense economic stress due to being unable to work and losing income, as well as lack of access to government support schemes.
  3. Third, emerging evidence showed that people with disabilities were more likely to contract or die from COVID-19. For example, in the UK, despite only making up 16 per cent of the population, people with disabilities made up 59 per cent of COVID-related deaths in the UK population between March and July 2020.

This information was been invaluable in advising partners and organisations on how to adapt their local COVID-19 response and recovery to include and protect people with disabilities. This key information was also used to provide ongoing support to the Australian Government as they assisted other countries to scale-up their social protection programs during the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring disability inclusion was featured and a focus.

The Inclusion Advisory Group continues to provide advice to ensure people with disabilities are front and centre in all COVID-19 response and recovery. Let’s all work together to build an inclusive post COVID-19 world.


(Pictured: Fitriani is a 26 year old woman with a disability, whose life changed after becoming a beneficiary of a CBM-funded CBID project in Aceh Province, Indonesia. In 2018, she completed a sewing training course organised by the project and by early 2019, she had started to produce masks for local farmers and was earning about IDR 30,000 per day. More recently of course, masks have been in even greater demand. During the COVID-19 outbreak, she has sewn hundreds of cloth masks for local markets, as well as for the project that had supported her, which were then distributed to persons with disabilities in Aceh Besar. Pictures were taken at Fitriani’s home.)

Learn more about CBM’s Inclusion Advisory Group here.

Read stories of impact from CBM and partner’s work during the pandemic here.

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