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.
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.
Multidimensional Poverty (MDP) is an effective measure that captures the many different deprivations faced by the poor. Although the incidence of MDP in Sri Lanka is only 1.9% (around 400,000 persons), nearly 10% of the population or around two million people are in Near Multidimensional Poverty (NMDP). Altogether, 2.4 million people in Sri Lanka are either in MDP or NMDP. This analysis examines the different groups that face MDP, where they live, and the types of deprivations, as well as the percentages of the deprivations they face.
Many Sri Lankans live just above and very close to the National Poverty Line (NPL). For instance, more than 400,000 persons fall within 10 per cent above the NPL and around one million persons live within 20 per cent above the NPL. As such, it is important to have a broad look at poverty, when developing strategies to alleviate poverty. In this blog, Wimal Nanayakkara, explains the methodology used in determining NPL and the Global Poverty Lines (GPLs), when estimating poverty in Sri Lanka and attempts to clear some misconceptions on these poverty lines, while stressing the importance of estimating poverty using different measures and dimensions.
Although Sri Lanka has managed to reduce income poverty, income inequality has remained unchanged for more than four decades. The richest 20 per cent enjoy more than half the total household income of the country, while the poorest 20 per cent get only 5 per cent. Furthermore, income gaps between different regions is even wider than the income inequality at the national level. In this blog, the author highlights that the imbalances in opportunities and wide gaps in income levels, as well as in living conditions, among regions and between the rich and the poor, should be addressed immediately.