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.
On-street parking is common in urban Colombo. Last year, the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) introduced parking meters in central Colombo; in addition to the parking fee, drivers are now slapped with late fees and fines for non-payment. While there have been many criticisms and complaints about the parking fee system, this blog examines the choice set and the rationalisation of a driver’s decision to pay an ex-ante parking fee versus an ex-post parking fine.
While the topic of tobacco control is mentioned in some of the main presidential candidates’ manifestos, it is uncertain whether they will honour the commitment made in 2017 to ban tobacco cultivation by next year. Since two third of the transition period of the proposed cultivation ban has already lapsed, it is unclear whether the shift from tobacco will be achieved by the end of 2020. Another concern is whether the 2019 presidential election will be an opportunity for lobby groups to convince policymakers to reverse the proposed ban. In such an uncertain policy environment, this blog examines the possibility of switching to alternative crops.