The District of Cox’s Bazar, located in southern Bangladesh, has some of the poorest living conditions in the country.
It is characterised by low access to basic infrastructure and services compared to the national average.1 At the same time, over the past four decades, in successive waves, the district has received Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Since August 2017, an estimated 750,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh, where approximately 900,000 refugees are now residing in 34 camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas.
Needs in Ukhiya and Teknaf arise mainly from existing development challenges. However, they have been compounded by the refugee influx.4 With the refugee population being almost double the host community population in the two upazilas,5 the massive increase in population density following the influx, coupled with the pre-existing lack of livelihoods, levels of poverty and vulnerability among the host community population, has led to tensions over labour competition, falling wages and price hikes of daily essentials. Perceived increases in crime, security concerns, and high pressures on the environment leading to deforestation and depleting water sources have further been reported as sources of tension.
The return of refugees to Myanmar continues to be uncertain.7 In addition, the host community along the Bay of Bengal coast is exposed to frequent and sometimes severe cyclone winds and tidal surges, with recurrent flooding, as witnessed most recently during a large flood event that affected more than 80,000 individuals.8 Lastly, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated containment measures severely disrupted livelihoods among the host community. This led to an exacerbation of needs in particular related to food security, health-seeking behaviour, education, and protection. As a result, host community households increasingly resorted to adopting coping mechanisms to meet their basic needs, including some crisis-level ones.9 A renewed lockdown, implemented in April 2021, may have further aggravated the situation.
Against this background, a Joint Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (J-MSNA) was conducted across host community populations and Rohingya refugee populations to support detailed humanitarian planning to meet the multi-sectoral needs of the affected populations and enhance the ability of operational partners to meet the strategic aims of donors and coordinating bodies. The general objective of the J-MSNA was to inform evidence-based strategic planning of humanitarian response activities by the Strategic Executive Group (SEG), the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) Secretariat, sectors, and sector partners, through the provision of up-to-date, relevant and comparable information on the multi-sectoral needs of the host community populations in Teknaf and Ukhiya Upazilas.
The 2021 J-MSNA built on previous MSNAs, most notably the 2019 and 2020 J-MSNAs, with the aim to facilitate an understanding of the evolution of needs and service gaps across time, where possible. It was funded by UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). The assessment was coordinated through the Inter Sector Coordination Group's (ISCG) MSNA Technical Working Group (TWG), led by the ISCG and composed of UNHCR, IOM Needs and Population Monitoring (IOM NPM), World Food Programme Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (WFP VAM), ACAPS, and Helvetas with REACH as a technical partner. Sectors were actively involved in research design, preparations for data collection, and the discussion of results and analyses. This report focuses on the findings relating to the host community component of the J-MSNA.
The J-MSNA targeted Bangladeshi households living in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas. Sectors and topics covered included Food Security and Livelihoods, WASH, Shelter and Non-food items (NFIs), Protection, including the Child Protection and Gender-Based Violence Sub-Sectors, Health, Education, Nutrition and Communication with Communities (CwC). Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. For the quantitative component, households were sampled from a UNHCR host community database, as well as UNHCR, WFP and IOM beneficiary databases, using a stratified random sampling approach, with the unions as the strata. Results are representative of the population included in the sampling frame, i.e. households registered with phone numbers in the databases and in areas with mobile reception, at the union level at a 95% confidence level and with a 10% margin of error. They are representative at the response level at a 95% confidence level and with a 3% margin of error. A total of 1,118 interviews were carried out between 12 July and 18 August 2021. Basic descriptive analysis was conducted, complemented by testing for statistically significant differences in outcomes between households of different socio-economic characteristics, and a comparison of 2019, 2020 and 2021 results, where possible. Qualitative focus group discussions (FGDs) were used to contextualise and validate the findings. A total of 20 FGDs were conducted and analysed by NPM and ACAPS, with men and women of different age groups between 21 and 29 September 2021.