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Sri Lanka

What Does More and Better Jobs in South Asia Mean?

Pradeep Mitra's picture

The Track Record

Imagine adding the population of Sweden—somewhat under 10 million— to your labor force year after year for a decade. Insist that the wage workers among them earn increasing real wages and that poverty among the self-employed decline over time. What you have just described is not quite South Asia's record on the quantity and quality of job creation between 2000 and 2010. The region has done better.

Poverty has fallen, not only among the self-employed, but among all types of workers—casual laborers who are the poorest, regular wage and salary earners who are the richest and the self-employed who are in between. This hierarchy of poverty rates among the three employment types has endured over decades. Thus improvements in job quality have occurred predominantly within each employment type rather than through movement across types. The composition of the labor force among the employment types shows little change over time. The self-employed, many of whom are in farming, comprise the largest share, reflecting the predominance of agriculture in much of the region. Casual laborers make up the second largest share in rural areas.

Surprises at the Annual Meetings!

Shaiza Qayyum's picture

Have you ever had the feeling of being overwhelmed because you got more, much, much more than what you were expecting? Well, I hadn’t, till I came for the World Bank and IMF Annual meetings.

Usually, any long, monotonous sessions would lull me to sleep, but somehow, I was wide awake in every session that I attended, despite being jet-lagged and sleep-deprived! Be it the youth capacity building session with the IMF officials, or getting a chance to mingle with the IMF sponsored youth leaders and CSOs, the learning only in the first 5 hours of the meetings was phenomenal. I must confess, my mind was boggled, and I felt a little dizzy, either due to sleep-deprivation or due to the information overload, I can’t truthfully say!

It wasn’t until the second day that things came back to normal. Maybe it was the jet lag wearing off; maybe it was the fact that all the other World Bank youth delegates had gelled in so well, as if we had known each other for ages, but there was something about the place that started feeling like home.

What I Learned at the Annual Meetings...

Keshavi Puswewala's picture

I can still remember making a speech about “Experience is the best teacher,” when I was 14 years old and didn't have much of experience about life and the world.

I think the 168 hours or so that I spent in DC with fellow youth delegates were an enlightening and very powerful experience that changed my perception about the world, people, and myself. The launches, interesting live broadcasts, sessions, presentations, publications all made at least one change in the way I think and the way I interpret what I see. Now I believe I am looking at things in a broader perspective than I used to and I have started thinking about the world in a different way.

Women Power in Sri Lanka

Sandya Salgado's picture

‘Equal to whom?’ seems to be my burning question when I see women in post conflict Sri Lanka battling it out all alone due to their present circumstances.

A three decade old war that ravaged north – east of Sri Lanka is now in the throes of reaping its peace dividends, slowly…

The war changed not just the landscape of the north-east Sri Lanka, but also the demographic profile, leaving many widows and women headed families destitute. While the official head count of this group is yet to be released by the government, it is apparent that the male to female ratio that was almost 50 -50 has now changed significantly in this part of the country.

I am the mother, father and the entrepreneur of my family” sums up the plight of 26 year old Sutharshini. A widow who has lost her husband and brother to the war that forever changed the lives of many Sri Lankan Tamils. Sutharshini and her two children represent the typical Sri Lankan Tamil woman who has just been resettled after being an internally displaced person (IDP) in a refugee camp for almost a year.

Divided by Date Trees, United by a Net Café

Sandya Salgado's picture

Batticaloa District, in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka is an ethnically diverse city with a population of approximately 490,000. The three decade old civil war wreaked havoc in this beautiful coastal town where the majority of the people are Tamil (74.5%) with a smaller Muslim (23.5%) and a Sinhala (1.3%) community living amidst some amount of tension over their ethnic differences.

Driving into Batticaloa town was a pleasant surprise for me after almost ten years. The bustling town was visually coming alive with the excellent road network that made the long drive from Colombo a real pleasure. Well constructed roads, the new and gleaming centre median lamp posts and the ongoing construction work painted a very positive feeling about the overall development of downtown Batticaloa, which was a welcome change for me. Batticaloa town’s landscape was surely changing. Needless to say I was wowed!

Could Youth-Led Reconciliation Put Sri Lanka Back on the Map?

Dilinika Peiris's picture

The three decade long war in Sri Lanka was instigated due to unmet youth aspirations. Today, Sri Lanka is well known as a post conflict country. No Sri Lankan in their right minds would like to witness the same again. As a Sri Lankan who has lived and worked most of my life in Sri Lanka, I can’t help but feel that my future could have been different if there was no conflict during the best part of my youth. I know many others feel the same.

Right now, most of Sri Lanka’s population is of working age. This demographic bonus was opened in the 1990s and will close in a few years time. According to Prof. Indralal De Silva from the University of Colombo, this demographic dividend will close in 2017, given the current trends.

It's time all decision makers and development practitioners think YOUNG. Youth need to be mainstreamed into development work and given a seat at the table to actively participate in policy making processes.

Sri Lanka is Still Young! Join us at World Bank Sri Lanka’s Youth Open House!

Dilinika Peiris's picture

Are you between 18 – 30 years of age?

Are you interested in a career in development practice?

Are you engaged in or would like to engage with a youth network working on Youth related development issues?

If yes, join us at the World Bank Sri Lanka Youth Open House, interact with World Bank staff and learn more…

Date: September 1, 2011

Venue: First Floor Conference Room, World Bank Colombo Office, 1st Floor- DFCC Bank building, 73/5, Galle Road Colombo 3

Please note: space is limited and admission will be on first come first serve basis. If you plan to attend, please send a request with a brief introduction to by 4:00 p.m. on Monday August 29, 2011. Please clearly indicate the session/sessions you would like to attend. We will then send you a gate pass to attend confirming your participation.

Wanted: South Asian Youth Leaders who want to make a Difference!

Joe Qian's picture

Update: The participants have been announced!

Thank you so much for the overwhelming interest and applications that you've sent. If you were not selected, we will continue to work together on sharing the ideas in your essays that you've submitted over the next few months. Thanks again! 

Are you from a South Asia Region (SAR) country, 18-25 years old and engaged in youth activities and development initiatives? 

Apply to join the World Bank & IMF’s Annual Meetings from September 23-25, 2011 in Washington DC, USA.

Application deadline: August 19, 2011. Details below.

Will recent events in the Middle East Affect Remittance Flows to South Asia?

Ceren Ozer's picture

For countries with substantial numbers of workers in the Middle East, recent events have not only raised concerns for the repatriation and welfare of their citizens, but have also raised fears of a possible slowdown in remittances. Will remittance flows noticeably decrease due to recent events in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia?

For South Asian countries, remittances are among the largest and most stable sources of foreign exchange and their developmental impact have been remarkable. For example, in Nepal national poverty level has come down from 42% to 31% during 1996 to 2004, and to 21% today, largely on the account of remittances which finance household consumption as well as education and health expenditures. Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, were among the top 15 remittance recipients in 2009—with inflows being equivalent to 24% of the GDP in Nepal, 12% in Bangladesh, 8% in Sri Lanka, 5% in Pakistan and 4% in India.

Gulf States employ more than 11 million expatriate workers, an estimated 8 million or more from South and East Asian countries. Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E, and Qatar are top destination for South Asian migrants and are main sources of remittance inflows. The table as well as the country profiles below demonstrates the sheer magnitude of migrant workers in the Arab Gulf countries and their contributions to the labor force; sometimes greater in overall numbers and proportion than the respective labor force in the countries.

The price of success – and how can we ensure that we can afford to pay it?

Sundararajan Gopalan's picture

Talking to a Sri Lankan friend about his 80-year old mother, who has been living alone ever since his father passed away 4 years back, brought back memories of my own mother who passed away at the age of 76 in 2008. As my Sri Lankan friend was worried about his mother’s living arrangements (he is happy to have her move in with him, but she prefers to stay alone in the house that has been her home for 46 years), I began to muse about my own father who lives alone at 85 years. He is in reasonable health for his age, and is largely independent, except that he needs oxygen support every night while sleeping as his lungs have lost significant capacity due to fibrosis, and his eyesight has deteriorated considerably. I was feeling guilty for not taking care of him in his old age. Again, it is his decision not to move in with any of his children, as he wants to stay in the apartment which he is familiar with and to be ‘independent’. We have appointed a care-taker who stays with him all day, while my sister and brother-in-law who live just a kilometer away give him company in the nights. Still the guilt feeling is no less.