Empty supermarket shelves, endless queues to buy essentials and overnight camping around fuel stations are now regular sights in Sri Lanka. As the economy continues to plummet with no viable short-term solutions in sight, levels of frustration among the citizens continue to rise. The country’s worst economic crisis since independence has battered Sri Lankans from all walks of life but the fallouts are impacting the poor with greater intensity. If urgent measures are not taken to support the most vulnerable at this time, more Sri Lankans will slip into poverty thus increasing intergenerational poverty in the long term. This blog identifies some of the most pressing challenges faced by the poor and vulnerable amidst the prevailing crisis and outlines policy options to safeguard their well-being.
The tourism industry’s performance was hampered first by the Easter Sunday bomb explosions in 2019 and then the COVID-19 pandemic. Sri Lanka saw a decline in tourist arrivals from 1,913,702 in 2019 to 194,495 in 2021. It is estimated that revenue declined from USD 3600 million to USD 261 million during 2019-2021, reflecting a staggering 92.75% reduction due to a fall in arrivals. This blog discusses existing disparities in tourism and the possibility of adopting a sustainable, pro-poor tourism strategy to reduce poverty in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s social protection and food insecurity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic came into focus at a webinar panel discussion held recently to mark the release of the ‘Sri Lanka: State of Economy 2021’ report, the annual flagship publication of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS). The event featured presentations by Dr Ganga Tilakaratna and Dr Manoj Thibbotuwawa from IPS, along with insights from Prof Udith Jayasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, and Prof Dileni Gunewardena, Professor of Economics, University of Peradeniya. IPS’ Lakshila Wanigasinghe moderated the discussion.
The nutritional status of children under five in Sri Lanka has not shown a significant improvement for the last 20 years. It has also been lagging behind most of the other health and social indicators on children. IPS research shows that household income, inadequate nutrient intake, breastfeeding practices, mothers’ education, etc., play a major role in child undernutrition in Sri Lanka. Moreover, given significant losses in household income experienced at the hands of the COVID-19 pandemic, nutrient intake may have declined further over the past year. As such, it would be a challenging task for health planners to develop effective strategies to minimise undernutrition among children under five years. This article highlights some of the facts contributing to child undernutrition in Sri Lanka and suggests ways to address this critical issue.
There are several steps Sri Lanka can take to fast-track the achievement of SDG 1, and extend greater social protection to its most vulnerable groups. This blog analyses the Samurdhi (prosperity) programme, the country’s main poverty alleviation initiative launched in 1995, and argues that addressing its core problem of poor targeting of beneficiaries is essential to end poverty in Sri Lanka.