The fragmented social protection system in Sri Lanka has been in need of reform for many years. There is a need to reform many areas, including targeting and the delivery of benefits — areas we have, and continue to, stress the importance of. The specific reforms that we prioritise may differ in the short and long term. The current economic crisis (which has thrown millions into poverty) has highlighted the gaps in the system. In this light, ensuring that the cash transfers are adequate to meet the needs of individuals and all those who need assistance are covered by the programme are key.
I was invited to speak on Social Safety Nets in Sri Lanka on ‘The People’s Platform’ a 45 minute live TV programme on NewsFirst. I drew on LIRNEasia’s research on the area to highlight problems in targeting the poor and the possibility of using bank accounts and mobile technology to deliver benefits to the poor.
Slides presented at the Advocata Institute’s #ReformNow conference on 5 August 2022
This paper provides a description of a TPRC influenced conference and training program intended to develop policy intellectuals for the ICT space in Africa and the Asia Pacific that was active from 2006 to 2018.
We are inviting Proposals from potential Bidders to conduct a nationally representative study – Sri Lanka social safety net survey. The full RFP can be downloaded here. Please also see our Technical Proposal Template, Financial Proposal Template, Contract Template and Sample Locations before submitting the proposals. Deadline for submissions is 01 August 2022.
An Expert Round Table discussion on "Tackling online misinformation while protecting freedom of expression" held on the 11th of October 2021, as the second of a series of discussions under the theme of “Frontiers of Digital Economy”
On July 16, 2022, the Ministry of Power and Energy in Sri Lanka launched the National Fuel Pass – a QR code-based system to tackle the ongoing and ever worsening queues for purchase fuel in Sri Lanka. Two million registrations were done with the system by 19th July. LIRNEasia’s nationally representative survey conducted in 2021 shows that 54% of households in Sri Lanka own at least one motorised vehicle – this translates to about three million households. This system requires those signing up to use a smartphone, or an internet accessible device to register for the service. These devices could include a computer (desktop/laptop/tablet) or a phone (smartphone/feature phone).
Launch of NMSJ Common Minimum Programme – 21 June 2022
Having stagnated for years, the percentage of South Asians who have used the internet has finally reached 50 per cent. In South Asia internet use is synonymous with social media, with most users spending all their time on chat applications. Many of these users have low digital skills and are often passive consumers in a digital world that attempts to influence, and at times misinform and manipulate, them.
Gayani Hurulle discussed LIRNEasia's research on social safety nets in Sri Lanka on an 'AdvoChat' organized by the Advocata Institute.
LIRNEasia’s Chair Prof. Rohan Samarajiva along with Senior Research Manager Gayani Hurulle participated as panelists in the press conference presenting the Common Minimum Program for Economic Recovery held on 21st of June at BMICH.
LIRNEasia Chair Rohan Samarajiva and I were invited to share our experiences at a UNESCAP capacity building workshop on Universal Service Fund modernization on 23 June 2022. Government officials from over 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific attended the two-day programme. Other speakers at the session included Atsuko Okuda (Regional Director, ITU-D), Charles Pierre Marie Hurphy (Senior Digital Development Specialist, World Bank), and John Garrity (Chief of Party, USAID BEACON Activity). In our talk, we discussed (i) how assess the performance of USFs and (ii) how to design good USFs. See our slides here.
Senior research managers Gayani Hurulle and Ayesha Zainudeen recently shared insights on the experience of women in India and Sri Lanka working remotely and flexibly during the pandemic at a jointly organised by LIRNEasia, the Centre for Policy Research (New Delhi) and the JustJobs Network at the 2022 Internet Research Conference (organised by the Centre for Internet and Society, CIS). LIRNEasia has been working with CPR and JJN over the last two and a half years on research on if and how digital platforms are empowering women with regards to work opportunities in India and Sri Lanka. The panel was moderated by Sabina Dewan (President and Executive Director, JJN) with panellists bringing in different perspectives and data. Devesh Taneja (Co-Founder, Vyre) started the discussion off with an overview of the platform ecosystem, business models and incentives. Gayani presented data on the gendered incidence and perceptions of remote work during COVID from our nationally representative surveys of the impacts of COVID in the two countries.
The need for cash transfer to ease the inflationary burden faced by Sri Lankans has never been higher. While the monthly amounts paid by the Government are paltry, it will at least provide minor relief to those who need it the most. Therefore, it is welcome news that the World Bank has repurposed previously committed funds to pay for cash transfers.
I recently participated in a panel discussion on “Health Communication: Risk & Strategies during COVID-19” at the International Communications Association (ICA) Conference (South Asia Regional Hub) on 29 May 2022. This session was also streamed at the main ICA Conference in Paris. The session was chaired by Manjula Venkataraghavan of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. Other panelists included Hezekiel Deamini of UNESCO, and Communications Practitioner, V. V.
LIRNEasia will host the online discussion series "Tackling the Information Disorder in Asia" June 8 (7:30 AM UTC - 9:30 AM UTC) and June 9 (7:30 AM UTC - 10:00 AM UTC), 2022. This event is free and open to the public. Prior registration mandatory.