Join Sri Lanka’s journey to end poverty and promote prosperity


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A 90 day reflection of the new Country Director of the World Bank
Join Sri Lanka's journey to end poverty and promote prosperity

I take this opportunity to thank all the Sri Lankans that opened their minds and hearts to help me understand the country context and constraints. During my first 90 days in Sri Lanka my colleagues and our clients gave me a warm welcome. I first met our core counterparts in the Government of Sri Lanka when I visited in July 2016. I have since travelled outside of Colombo several times, and I have met with many of our clients, development partners and stakeholders.  I have also had the privilege to meet with our friends from the media, civil society groups, academia and private sector to better understand the current operating environment and discuss solutions to issues of common interest.

Cricket in Sri Lanka is followed with so much passion and enthusiasm. This thrilled me as it is the same in my home country, Zimbabwe. Many things about Sri Lanka and its people and culture bring back fond memories from home.  Sri Lanka to me now is a second home so I am often torn with who to support when Sri Lanka plays Zimbabwe.  It’s even harder to know how to react when Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe recently.

I recently read an article by Kumar Sangakkara on the Spirit of Cricket.  What an apt article.  It just demonstrated so much what one can do when they find a common thread that they are all passionate about.  Sri Lanka has many lessons to teach and to learn from the game of cricket.

I join my view into that of the article, that all Sri Lankans will need to work together regardless of location, gender, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation and social status. The focus should be on Sri Lanka’s priorities for development and how the Sri Lankan people can work together to win the match of ending poverty and sharing prosperity.

Smart investments in Sri Lanka’s human capital to improve the country’s competitiveness, fiscal management, social inclusion and protecting Sri Lanka’s natural environment are the priority development areas that have been agreed to jointly by the World Bank and the Government of Sri Lanka and its development partners.  Our recently completed Country Partnership Framework lays a contribution, amongst other plans to support the government in addressing development issues.

There are many development partners in Sri Lanka doing great work and I am committed to continuing to work with them as a part of the broader team. We have been collectively taking stock of what other partners are doing in order to add value, avoid duplication and increase outcomes and impact.

I also believe we need to use the power of communication and effective engagement with stakeholders. Using evidence to support constructive debates, respectfully articulating differences in views will enable a healthy dialogue and a diverse set of solutions.

This will be, I hope, a first in many blogs to come.  As such, I would like to extend an open invitation to you to provide your comments, suggestions and opinions on how the Bank can work better and more deeply to deliver on the country’s development plans. 


Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough

Country Director, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros and Seychelles

December 09, 2016

Idah, you are faster than Sri Lankan politicians, who review their progress after 100 days. Well written note which will attract many true Sri Lankans. Mano.

December 29, 2016

Hi Mano, thought I would take 10% of the normal time! Many thanks. Idah

December 09, 2016

Peace building, Safegurding the natural elements when developing this tiny Island is very important factor go endless changes.

December 29, 2016

Thank You for your comment!

Duleep Fernando
December 12, 2016

I happened to read this article four months after it has been posted. However, I take the liberty of submitting a query at this point. Is there any scheme where the World Bank provides assistance - financially and/or otherwise, to those who are keen on commencing agri business, cultivation etc. ?
Thank you

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough
January 09, 2017

Thank you for your query. There are many ways you can engage with the World Bank and its operations. To learn more visit or join the conversations and opportunities posted via our Facebook page – or you can send an email to [email protected] if you have specific queries.

December 13, 2016

Hi Idah,
Wonderful blog post, especially the part - whom to cheer when it comes to SL Vs Zim cricket matches :)
Great to see your balanced views on engaging all sectors : Govt, NGO, Private sector and Academia for inclusive growth.
But, journey is not straight forward. There are so much grey areas that leave citizens clueless on how to engage in development.
Let's hope the sparks you have identified will connect to make a fire, so Sri Lanka will be a visible force in the world map. Right now, we are not, even though Sri Lankans are capable.

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough
January 09, 2017

Thank you Isura for your timely comment. I am committed to engaging with the many stakeholders in Sri Lanka’s path to prosperity. My team is working with the Government team to support the implementation of the RTI, which we believe is one of the progressive RTIs in the world. Join us through our online and offline engagements in 2017 and together with other development partners let’s work together to make citizens of Sri Lanka more informed and engaged on Sri Lanka’s development.

Nanda Wanninayaka
December 13, 2016

Read the article with interest. We too do an educational project in to teach English and ICT to the children in this village called Mahawilachchiya in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough
January 09, 2017

Thank you for sharing. I have heard about your work from my colleagues. Keep up the good work.

January 10, 2017

As a Sri Lankan living and working overseas for the past 16 years, I take a keen interest in post war Sri Lanka's progress in the global economy, and how we are doing in positioning ourselves in the global value chains in tourism, agriculture etc. I stumbled on your cleverly written blog and found it a very interesting read. Looking forward to future blogs. Keep up the good work Idah.

Parmanand Melwani
January 15, 2017

Very interested in the development of this most beautiful Island. We are running an import company and would be interested in partnering with an exporter to assist in the logistics. We import spices and coffee beans. We are very keen in this project as we also have partnered with a North African country in getting involved in this project. Our main objective is to partner with interested parties and then, we work out the logistics. Quite honestly, it is working well as a larger portion of the profits are repatriated to the exporting countries. As Canadians, we are very privileged by our standard of living and we believe there is no reason why we should also share our standards with less privileged countries. Thank you. P. Melwani