Sri Lanka is experiencing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and cities and urban centres have become the hotspots of vulnerability. With their relatively favourable economic conditions and extensive transport networks, cities attract migrants from rural areas, frequently resulting in overcrowding and greater vulnerability to external shocks such as COVID-19. Hence, strengthening resilience of cities and urban settlements to meet health emergencies is a critical part of the national response strategy to pandemics. This blog explains why cities should be focal points of pandemic response planning, and discusses ways to build pandemic resilience in Sri Lanka’s urban areas.
By the time COVID-19 hit, Sri Lanka’s tea production and export earnings had already been on a declining trend. The adverse weather conditions and long-term structural issues such as labour shortages and lack of technological application have affected production levels over time. With the first wave of the pandemic, the vulnerabilities of the tea sector were exposed. Now, Sri Lanka and most of the main tea buyers are experiencing a second wave which can have far reaching negative consequences than previously anticipated. This blog discusses the impacts of COVID-19 on Sri Lanka’s tea industry and the different mitigation strategies that the government can adopt to revive the industry.
As the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic and works towards recovery, Sri Lanka should explore ways of halting the spread of future pandemics, stimulating recovery, and building resilience in underprivileged urban settings. This blog discusses how Sri Lanka can address these challenges.
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.
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.