The Districts of Mullaitivu, Moneragala, Mannar and Batticaloa had a higher rate of poverty in comparison with others, Senior Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) Wimal Nanayakkara noted.
The 2014 Millennium Development Goals Country Report prepared by the IPS highlighted the incidence of income poverty based on socio-economic groups revealed that the poorest in the country were labourers engaged in agriculture and non-agriculture related work.
Of children below the ages of five years, 21.6% were underweight, with the estate sector recording a high 29.7%, the rural sector 21.7% and the urban sector 16.6% as far as under-nutrition was concerned.
The employment to population ratio for females was low requiring therefore the need to create employment opportunities that are closer to home, provide for flexible working hours and opportunities to work from home especially in technology related fields. The number of dropouts was seen to be increasing with increasing age beyond 14 years (before General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level).
Around 10% of boys do not attend school or any other educational institute after 14 years of age, and while the percentage is much higher for children in the estate sector, the pattern is the same for girls.
This pattern indicates the importance of increasing the compulsory age for schooling to at least 16 years which has not been implemented yet. It is critical to improve the quality of education and facilities for science education in all regions as well as the education outcomes at secondary and tertiary levels.
Skills mismatch in the labour market needs to be addressed as Sri Lanka needs more people with vocational, technical and professional skills in order to meet the ever increasing demand for skills. The Parliamentary representation of women must be increased from the present 6.8%. Can Sri Lanka afford to lose around 123 mothers per year?
Reported cases of human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome are gradually increasing. Around 8,000 new cases of tuberculosis are reported every year.
As the country develops and urban areas grow, the area of land covered by forest has declined. By 2012 and 2013, 72.5% in the estate sector had access to basic sanitation including toilet facilities and as far as access to safe drinking water was concerned the estate sector was found lagging behind at 46.3% as many of them used spring water for drinking, which according to the global definition was considered unsafe.
After 2010, there has been a sharp drop in the proportion of Sri Lankan imports to developed countries admitted duty free, primarily due to the loss of GSP+ concessions granted by the European Union.
BY RUWAN LAKNATH JAYAKODY/ CT