The Sri Lankan crisis and some ways to help

Updated Oct 6 2022

As you have probably heard by now, Sri Lanka is in crisis. That link, and pretty much any news source at this point, has more coverage if you need it; if you’re looking for deeper analysis, I recommend these articles by Mario Arulthas and Ahilan Kadirgamar as good starting points.

The short version: price hikes, inflation, and severe shortages are hitting all Sri Lankans hard, and obviously working-class Sri Lankans, who constitute the vast majority of this country, are the hardest hit.

Official poverty rates aside (they tend to be defined in such a way to minimize the number of people who are formally “poor”, so as to make good poverty reduction stats), even before the crisis hit, nine out of ten Sri Lankans were living on less than $3 a day. Seven of those nine lived on about half that. The conversion of those numbers from rupees to dollars is based on current (and collapsing) exchange rates to give you an idea of how far your donations would go right now, and how much even small donations matter.

A meal, as costed by most of the relief efforts below, is less than $1. For $10, you can make sure ten people get a square meal.

I want to add that those income stats themselves are actually from an official government survey in 2016: long before the pandemic, even, never mind the current collapse. So they are certainly far too positive for what’s going on right now, but it’s the best official number I could find. Conditions were already precarious at best: we are now over the edge and in free-fall, which is why so many people are protesting across classes and political tendencies.

Small-scale mutual aid initiatives are obviously not going to solve the crisis. But they do keep at least some people fed in the meantime, and as anybody who has ever been hungry knows, that’s hell of a lot better than nothing.

I’ve been trying to keep this page updated as various relief initiatives spin up or wind down, so as long as the date at the top of this post is relatively recent, the below are active.

As of late 2022, many projects have wound down or gone on hiatus. The best way to help at this point is supporting mutual aid efforts for food and dry rations via Amalini De Sayrah’s Google document, which is the most comprehensive resource tracking many relief efforts.

Everything listed in the above document are on-the-ground mutual aid initiatives. If you’re on the island, you can donate directly via bank transfer, and if you’re donating from overseas, you can use do an international bank transfer or use a service like Bank details and instructions on how to use Wise are in the document.

These are efforts to provide food and dry rations to low-income communities in different parts of the island, all of whom have been hit very hard by the shortages and price hikes. Any and all of them are good to support, and deserve whatever you can give! (Document linked in the tweet below is the same Google doc.)

Please donate and signal boost as much as you can! Any help you can give is deeply appreciated.