Nearly 30 percent of the Rohingyas and 26 percent of Bangladeshis in close proximity to the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar and Bandarban have reported symptoms of clinical depression, said a survey.
Findings of the first wave of the Cox's Bazar Panel Survey (CBPS) were shared at a day-long policy workshop in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Fifty policymakers and practitioners attended the workshop organised by the Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the International Growth Center, and Yale University's Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale (Y-RISE), said a press release.
According to the research, large proportions of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have experienced traumatic events. About a half of them reported a near death experience, torture or combat.
One-third of them had a family member or friend murdered, or were forcibly isolated from others, found the survey.
Bangladeshis in close proximity to the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar and Bandarban also report experiencing trauma, but the patterns and types of traumatic events are distinct.
Domestic violence accounts for an important proportion of traumatic experiences among Bangladeshi respondents, said the survey.
The CBPS is a comprehensive dataset tracking social, economic, and health outcomes over time, and is representative of both the Rohingya population and Bangladeshi households living in host communities in close proximity to the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar and Bandarban.
The dataset was built based on extensive interviews with 5,020 households which shared information on more than 25,000 individuals. The research was conducted between March and August this year.
The Innovations for Poverty Action conducted the study by first carrying out a census of 45,916 households. Then it randomly chose the 5,020 households to survey.
The survey included questions on food security, consumption, assistance, assets, anthropometrics, labor market participation and history, migration history, use of health services, crime and conflict, and trauma and mental health.
Imran Matin, country director of the International Growth Center in Bangladesh and executive director of the Brac Institute of Governance and Development, said, "In the backdrop of a dearth of good quality data and evidence in the humanitarian context, this panel dataset of Rohingya and host communities allows us to actually understand the population we work with."
"It will allow organisations like Brac to better design and target their programmes to efficiently meet needs."
Mushfiq Mobarak, a Bangladeshi professor of economics at Yale University and faculty director of the Y-RISE, said, "Now that we collected information on 25,000 individuals in this first round, our plan is to follow up with each one of them and understand how their life changes year after year."
"The descriptive statistics we are sharing today should be useful for organisations as they design programmes for the Rohingyas and host populations. The future rounds of the survey will be useful to track indicators for both populations, and adopt programmatic changes in response to data. Eventually we also expect to use this exercise to evaluate the impact of specific programs," he added.
Sebastian Chaskel, director of the Peace and Recovery Programme at IPA, said, "The world now has over 70 million forcibly displaced people. This is the highest absolute number in history, and we know surprisingly little about them, and about how best to support them as well as the communities that surround them."
"The CBPS is an important tool that donors and practitioners working on the Cox's Bazar response now have at their disposal. We look forward to seeing how the donor and practitioner communities will incorporate these findings into their important work," he added.