Bangladesh disability population 1.4%

Nurul Islam Hasib, Senior Correspondent

Dhaka, Jul 16 (

In a surprising revelation, the final results of the 5th Population and Housing Census 2011 showed the number of people with disability is only 1.4 percent of Bangladesh’s total population.

The percentage is far below the last year’s estimation of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics’ (BBS) Household Income Expenditure Survey that had found people with disability at 9.07 percent of the population.

However, the percentage was 0.6 percent in the 2001 census.

The National Forum of Organisations Working with the Disabled (NFOWD) termed the new findings ‘illogical’ and said the way they (BBS) surveyed was ‘wrong.’

The BBS, however, said they were ‘accurate’.

“We anticipated such underestimate at the beginning,” Dr Nafeesur Rahman, Director of the Forum, told and that there were problems in questionnaires. “We told BBS from the beginning.”

They dropped intellectual disability from the questionnaire and kept only autism. They did not keep all types of mental disabilities. The way they asked was wrong, he said.

“Even they did not ask in every household whether there are any persons with disability,” he said, adding the census could only identify some ‘severe’ disability which is visible to all.

“But in Bangladesh context, you will find many people with disability living in silence,” he said, and added that the Ministry of Social Welfare was conducting a separate survey on disability.

The Census Project Director Ashim Kumar Dey said their definition of disability was different from the organisations working with disability.

“They (different organizations) count those who wear spectacles as persons with disability. But we don’t,” he explained.

He said they counted those who cannot walk as persons with disability, but the organisations working on disability even consider who have little problem to walk.

He, however, rejected the claim of not including all types of disability in the questionnaire. “We stand by our findings. We are ready to defend our position,” he said.

The new estimates of World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest disability can comprise 15 percent of a country’s population.

The final results of the census found Bangladesh’s total population was 14, 97,72,364 on Mar 15 last year, and with 1.37 percent growth rate it was 15,25,18,015 on Monday.