The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of people across the world but not everyone has been affected in the same way. In most contexts, women and girls are disproportionately impacted, and girls and women pay a higher social and economic toll. This is mainly because of their relatively disadvantaged situation, and distinct social obligations and responsibilities. The pandemic has already derailed progress made towards achieving gender equality (SDG5). The labour market, health, education, nutrition and food security, and safety are some of those areas facing setbacks due to the pandemic. The negative impacts can be expected to widen (i.e., more individuals are affected) and deepen (i.e. the conditions of some individuals worsen) the already unfavourable situation.
Historically, the Sri Lankan government has resorted to import controls to counter a balance of payment crisis. The current import controls have the same underlying rationale. However, the trade deficit’s temporary shrinkage may not be sustainable if there is no increase in exports. To increase exports, Sri Lanka needs to remove hurdles on input supply, remove distortionary tariffs, exploit market opportunities under the rule-based free trade system, and in the long run, improve the country’s GVC participation.
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.
High levels of inequality impede sustainable growth and development of a country. Sri Lanka made impressive strides to reach an upper middle-income country (UMIC) status in July 2019, only to slip back a year later. The COVID-19 crisis, amid growing inequities, is likely to make the task of regaining UMIC status even harder. This blog highlights the main sectors and social groups that are adversely affected, and explains the need for inclusive economic growth (IEG) post-COVID-19 for Sri Lanka to emerge as a peaceful and developed country.
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.