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.
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.
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.
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.