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Assessment of the impacts of COVID-19 on the rights and welfare of Children with Disabilities in Ethiopia

COVID-19 was declared by the World Health Organization as a global health threat in 2020. Governments have been implementing various preventive measures including school closures, community lockdowns, and avoiding public gatherings to contain the spread of the infection. Though these preventive measures played a significant role in containing the infection, children with disabilities (CWDs) were highly impacted by its indirect effects. This assessment was conducted to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the rights and welfare of CWDs in Ethiopia. Based on the agreement with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the study was carried out by NISIR Research, Training, and Development Consultancy. Quantitative and qualitative surveys were conducted in Addis Ababa, Oromia, and Southern Nation, Nationalities, and Peoples regions. The quantitative survey was conducted on 117 CWDs and 65 parents of CWDs while the qualitative survey was conducted among CWDs, parents, and various stakeholders.

Key findings

COVID-19 prevented CWDs from exercising their rights to play and interact with their friends and impacted their mental well-being.

  • 47.21% of participants stated that CWDs play with other children less often when compared to the time before the COVID pandemic.
  • 48.9% of participants indicated that CWDs interact with other children less frequently than before the COVID pandemic.
  • 34.62% of the participants stated that CWDs started caring for their siblings more often than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 20.33% of CWDs engaged in household chores more often than before the pandemic.
  • Prolonged home stay without interacting and playing with their friends affected the mental health of CWDs.

COVID-19 has highly restricted the healthcare access of CWDs. Moreover, their access to information on COVID-19 and preventive equipment for COVID-19 was disproportionally affected.