The World Bank has estimated that around half a billion people worldwide could slip into extreme poverty, due to the spread of COVID-19, and subsequent control measures taken by governments. Although Sri Lanka has low levels of extreme poverty, the stringent measures taken to control the pandemic will have a devastating effect on the poor. This blog highlights the plight of the poorest and most vulnerable Socioeconomic Groups (SEGs) in Sri Lanka, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
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.