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 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.
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.
Sri Lanka was ranked as the second most affected country by the impacts of weather-related losses in 2017, according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2019. Worryingly, the country’s situation has worsened since 2016. This highlights Sri Lanka’s vulnerability to climate impacts and the need for effective policies. The good news is that the 2019 Budget proposes several measures to improve Sri Lanka’s disaster resilience. In this blog, Kanchana Wickramasinghe discusses the challenges and gaps in disaster management and the ways in which Sri Lanka can improve its capacity to face these calamities.
It has become apparent that natural disasters have a gender aspect, where women are often affected more severely than men. A woman’s pre-disaster familial responsibilities are magnified and expanded by a disaster, often with significantly less support and resources. The author argues that, given that women are often in a disadvantaged position in many contexts, the promotion of gender equality implies that attention need to be paid to female empowerment in disaster management.