The COVID-19 Emergency in Sri Lanka

Strengths and Challenges

August 24, 2020
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. EDT
Location: Online Zoom Webinar

Each country faces different challenges as they confront the double crisis of COVID-19 infection and related economic and social shocks. The COVID-19 emergency is also disrupting the ongoing strategies and programs of leading international faith-inspired organizations. Many are responding directly to varying dimensions of the COVID-19 emergency while at the same time maintaining their focus on critical development priorities. Sri Lanka stands out among countries for its progress on human development, but also, less positively, for bitter conflicts that have included religious dimensions. It also has one of the most respected faith-inspired movements: Sarvodaya, a leader in community-driven development that has built on Buddhist principles. Sarvodaya is deeply involved in Sri Lanka's challenges, listening to and supporting communities responding to natural disasters, ethnic conflicts, and now to the COVID-19 emergency.

Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, president of Sarvodaya and a medical doctor by training, used the COVID-19 emergency to frame his reflection on Sri Lanka's experience. Berkley Center Senior Fellow Katherine Marshall engaged with Ariyaratne, focusing on four questions: How have COVID-19 challenges affected daily life and livelihoods in Sri Lanka, as well as health services? What have been distinctive effects on women, including female-headed households and returning migrant workers? How has Sarvodaya related to government entities and WHO during the crisis, and has this posed specific challenges or benefits? Finally, how has this emergency affected peacebuilding in the country and the roles of peacebuilders? The discussion built upon these questions to explore the many facets of Sri Lanka's current situation.

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Event Summary September 22, 2020

The COVID-19 Emergency in Sri Lanka: Strengths and Challenges

This event summary highlights contributions to an August 24, 2020 Berkley Center webinar on “The COVID-19 Emergency in Sri Lanka,” which brought together two development experts to reflect on how Sri Lanka has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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