Sri Lanka’s looks at adaptive social protection to protect poor,vulnerable from disasters

Sept 26, 2018 (LBO) – The key concerns for Sri Lanka are less about extreme poverty; and more about vulnerability to an array of risks like disaster and the management of them, the Country Director of the World Baknk in Sri Lanka said. 

“Sri Lanka has put in place extensive programs to respond to disasters but more can be done to coordinate these efforts and ensure that disaster-affected households are supported until they fully recover,” Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, Country Director of the World Baknk in Sri Lanka said. 

“This is where adaptive social protection can play a role. Adaptive social protection comprises a series of measures to protect the poor and the vulnerable from disasters.” 

She adds that adaptive social protection is not just about money it is also about social assistance and services, such as cash transfers, social insurance, like pensions and disability benefits; and active labor market programs.

“If they are designed and run well, these programs can cushion the blow of unexpected losses such as those brought about by disasters,”

“Information systems are playing an increasingly pivotal role worldwide in directing and coordinating governments’ responses to those in need.”

With support from the World Bank, Sri Lanka is developing a social registry, which is a database containing details on the needs and conditions of citizens.

Currently there are 35 programs implemented by 11 ministries, each with its own rules and processes and no coordination, reducing their impact and efficiency.

Pswarayi-Riddihough says a social registry can help various programs to determine who needs the most help in a systematic and objective way.

“The social registry can play a key role in responding to disasters, too, by helping the government and other agencies to identify who is affected, what their needs are, and what programs they already receive<” 

“Today and tomorrow, we will hear from representatives of countries that have taken on this challenge, using increasingly sophisticated social registry and welfare systems to provide rapid assistance to disaster-affected citizens.”

Sri Lanka is visited annually by natural disasters. Both 2016 and 2017 saw severe floods and droughts.

According to a recent World Bank report launched last week in Colombo, rising temperatures and changing monsoon rainfall patterns from climate change could cost Sri Lanka 7.0 percent of GDP and depress the living standards of nearly half the country’s population by 2050.