Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Crisis
|Sri Lankan Migrants Abroad: Results from a Rapid Online Survey during the Spread of COVID-19
IPS Research Fellow and Head of Migration and Urbanisation research, Bilesha Weeraratne examines how different types of Sri Lankan origin migrant workers are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Return and Reintegration without Assimilation: South Asian Migrant Workers in the Gulf during COVID-19
IPS Research Fellow and Head of Migration and Urbanisation research, Bilesha Weeraratne, noted that the high number of COVID-19 cases among returning migrant workers has destabilised Sri Lanka’s repatriation efforts and a partially reversed the successful efforts made in Sri Lanka to curtail the spread of the pandemic.
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|Distance Education during and after COVID-19: Long Road Ahead for Sri Lanka
In what has been recognised as the world’s largest educational crisis, the spread of COVID-19 has resulted in a record number of students being forced to stay away from schools and universities. This blog examines the effectiveness of distance education in Sri Lanka, from the perspectives of inclusion and quality, and explores policy measures that can deliver and sustain more equitable and effective learning outcomes, beyond COVID-19.
|Tobacco Cultivation: A Threat to Sri Lanka's Food Security amidst COVID-19
In 2017, the government made a commitment to ban tobacco cultivation by end 2020 and launched a programme to discourage farmers from growing tobacco and instead switch to sustainable alternatives. While the transition period of the proposed cultivation ban is nearly over, the programme is currently at a deadlock. This blog examines how tobacco cultivation could weaken the government’s efforts to promote home gardening and why the transformation initiative should be sped up to improve food security during the COVID-19 outbreak.
|No School, No Meals: Sri Lanka’s Battle against Child Malnutrition amidst COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and preschools have been closed for nearly three months and until further notice. Missing out on school meals may lead to nutritional deficits of thousands of poor children in Sri Lanka. This is a grave situation, as nutritional shocks during childhood can result long-term effects on health and education outcomes. Given this context, the blog will discuss some steps that can be taken to mitigate nutritional fallouts among vulnerable children.
|New Face of Hunger: Building a Resilient Food System in Sri Lanka in an Age of Pandemic
Among the many impending crises resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, rising food insecurity due to lockdown measures is one of the most critical. The food system in Sri Lanka has already proven to be vulnerable and inefficient in coping with crises. Further, malnutrition is a persistent problem in Sri Lanka, with severe regional disparities. Policymakers are thus faced with the dual challenge of mitigating the short and medium term impacts of COVID-19 as well as strengthening Sri Lanka's food systems in the long term. This blog examines how COVID-19 could worsen food security issues in the country and what measures can be taken to overcome these challenges.
|Repatriation and Replacement of Lost Foreign Jobs: Handling Labour Migration in Sri Lanka during COVID-19
Sri Lanka, which has been sending workers abroad for employment for decades, is now faced with the formidable challenge of repatriating large numbers of migrant workers affected by COVID-19. This exercise calls for a continued coordination with the returnees, beyond the period of travel and quarantine. This blog dissects the nuances of labour migration, lost foreign employment opportunities, and repatriation brought about by the spread of COVID-19 and provides policy recommendations to successfully re-enter foreign labour markets.
|Coping with COVID-19: Economics of Social Media Based Business in Sri Lanka during Crises
As of January 2018, there were six million active social media users in Sri Lanka, accounting for 30% of the population. Given the complete cessation of usual business practices in Sri Lanka for the past six weeks, due to prolonged curfew, businesses of all sizes have begun to use social media as their preferred platform to continue commercial activities. For instance, many major supermarkets and other vendors have also started connecting to their customers directly via platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook. Similarly, social media based Micro, Small, and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) have also attempted to restart their service provision, amidst several limitations. This blog discusses the impact of crises on social media based MSMEs in Sri Lanka.
|Smoking in the Time of Corona: Why Limiting Smoking is Important in the Battle against COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed thousands of lives worldwide. As expected with any respiratory illness, there is clear evidence that smokers are much more vulnerable to COVID-19 than non-smokers. This blog discusses how smokers can make the crisis worse and provides short term policy recommendations that can help control the spread of the disease in Sri Lanka. In particular, the blog makes a compelling case for imposing a temporary ban on cigarette sales in Sri Lanka.
| COVID-19 and the Road Ahead for Sri Lanka’s Three Wheeler Industry
Sri Lanka has been under curfew since mid-March to contain the spread of COVID-19. As a result, economic activities throughout the country have stalled. A recent IPS blog identified that non-agricultural, informal workers were highly affected by this pandemic. This blog illustrates how the ongoing curfew is impacting three wheeler drivers in Sri Lanka, based on mobile phone conversations with three wheeler drivers from Colombo, Kegalle, and Galle districts.
|COVID-19 and Foreign Exchange Woes: Can Sri Lanka Find a Way Out?
Growing pressure on Sri Lanka’s scarce foreign exchange resources, due to the wide spread of COVID-19 across the globe, is now more real than ever before. To ease this pressure, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has taken many measures to attract as well as retain more foreign exchange in Sri Lanka. Yet, it is uncertain if these efforts alone would be able to address Sri Lanka’s deepening foreign exchange concerns. This blog highlights the importance of remittances to Sri Lanka and outlines how to harness the potential of international remittances to complement other efforts already taken by the CBSL.
|Smoking Cessation in Sri Lanka: A Silver Lining in the COVID-19 Crisis?
As the deadly COVID-19 pandemic threatens the entire world, claiming thousands of lives and disrupting economic activities, it would be wise to look at the role smoking cessation could play in the response. Given that over a quarter (28.4%) of Sri Lankan men (15 years and older) smoke, one important intervention that can be taken right now, is utilising this moment of panic as motivation to stop smoking. This blog discusses the role of smoking cessation in reducing the chances of falling victim to the pandemic, which will not only assist in protecting public health, but will also make the population less susceptible to COVID-19 and its future recurrences, both now and in the longer term.
|Easter Attacks in 2019 vs. COVID-19 Outbreak of 2020: What Lies Ahead for Sri Lanka?
Unlike the Easter Sunday attacks, COVID-19 is not only affecting Sri Lanka. Its effect is felt by almost all countries across the world. The economic impact of this on Sri Lanka will not only be influenced by what is happening in the country, but also by how the disease is affecting global values chains, markets, and the movement of goods and people across the world. With the COVID-19 pandemic still unfolding, it is too early to estimate the economic impact of the crisis. This blog compares the economic impact of the Easter Sunday attacks to illustrate the likely impact of COVID-19 on Sri Lanka’s economy.
|‘A Brewing Storm’: Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Sri Lanka
Over a quarter of the world’s population is currently under movement restrictions. For the first time in recent human history, coronavirus has shattered the myth that the economy must come first. While public health concerns, undoubtedly, should take precedence over all other considerations when dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be unwise to ignore the economic costs of the current situation. Small economies such as Sri Lanka, in particular, whose economic backbone is made up of micro, small, and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), dependent on export revenue for foreign currency generation, and is simultaneously managing a critical debt and fiscal crisis, are going to be particularly vulnerable.
|Coronavirus Epidemic and China’s Slowdown: Economic Impact on Sri Lanka
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) as a global emergency. Amid geopolitical tensions, prospects for the Chinese economy and global economic growth have weakened further with the outbreak of the coronavirus. According to a recent paper by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) that measured which countries are susceptible to the impact of the coronavirus and the resulting slowdown in China’s economy, Sri Lanka was among the low and middle income countries which are most vulnerable to the situation.
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|Bilesha Weeraratne Discusses Sri Lanka’s Deepening Foreign Exchange Crisis
Speaking on Newsline programme, broadcast over TV1 on 15 April 2020, IPS Research Fellow and Head of Migration and Urbanisation research, Bilesha Weeraratne, discussed the impact of COVID19 pandemic on Sri Lanka's migrant remittances.
|Bilesha Weeraratne Discusses the Role of Remittances in Reviving Sri Lanka’s Economy
Speaking on Face the Nation programme, broadcast over TV1 on 06 April 2020, IPS Research Fellow and Head of Migration and Urbanisation research, Bilesha Weeraratne, discussed the role of remittances in reviving Sri Lanka's economy, post COVID-19 pandemic.
|Bilesha Weeraratne Discusses Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Sri Lanka
IPS Research Fellow and Head of Migration and Urbanisation research, Bilesha Weeraratne, in a live interview on Swarnavahini, on 30 March 2020, discussed the economic impact of COVID19 on Sri Lanka.
Partnerships and policy discussions
|IPS Director of Research Speaks on Sri Lanka’s Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery
IPS Director of Research, Nisha Arunatilake, recently noted that the COVID-19 pandemic hit Sri Lanka at a time when the country was vulnerable both economically and politically. She noted that the economy was just starting to recover from the Easter Sunday Bomb attacks of 2019 and its fiscal situation was weak.
|IPS Executive Director Speaks on Regional Cooperation in South Asia amidst COVID-19 and beyond
IPS Executive Director, Dushni Weerakoon, recently highlighted that South Asia faces some common problems when dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Limited health resources, high levels of poverty, and the lack of social welfare poses significant challenges when trying to mitigate the impacts of the crisis, she noted.
|Bilesha Weeraratne Discusses Remittances, Return, and Reintegration of Migrant Workers in Sri Lanka
IPS Research Fellow and Head of Migration and Urbanisation research, Bilesha Weeraratne, was a panelist at the Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism (GRFDT) Virtual Panel Discussion on ‘Gulf Migration: During and Aftermath of COVID 19’ on 27 May 2020.
|Kithmina Hewage Discusses Contours of BIMSTEC Cooperation Post COVID-19
IPS Research Economist, Kithmina Hewage, was a panelist at a discussion on the 'Contours of BIMSTEC Cooperation in Post COVID-19', organised by the Asian Confluence, on 20 May 2020.
|Kithmina Hewage Discusses Socioeconomic Implications of COVID-19 on Developing Countries
IPS Research Economist, Kithmina Hewage, was a panelist at a discussion on 'Socioeconomic Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Developing Countries and the Role of South-South and Triangular Cooperation', organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), on the 07 May 2020.
|Bilesha Weeraratne Discusses Sri Lanka's Deepening Foreign Exchange Crisis
IPS Research Fellow and Head of Migration and Urbanisation research, Bilesha Weeraratne, was a panellist at the PWC webinar on post-COVID19 economic outlook and recovery strategies, on 25 April 2020.
|Kithmina Hewage Discusses Impact of COVID-19 on SMEs
IPS Research Economist, Kithmina Hewage, participated in an online discussion on how COVID-19 is affecting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and what policy measures governments can take, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Pakistan.
|IPS Partners with World Economic Forum's Regional Action Group for South Asia
IPS is part of the World Economic Forum's Regional Action Group for South Asia which aims to build regional resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic.