The Sri Lankan crisis and some ways to help

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.

Below are multiple fundraising efforts, any and all of which are good to support, and deserve whatever you can give! The first is the single most urgent fundraising effort, to fund medical supplies for national hospitals, and the others are focused on food and dry rations for low-income communities across the island.

(1) Gofundme for essential medical supplies


Everything on this page is urgent, but even on the scale of disaster this is a particularly nightmarish situation. National hospitals are running out of essential medicines and supplies. See “Sri Lanka doctors warn of ‘catastrophic deaths’ amid shortages” (Al Jazeera) and “Sri Lanka nearly out of medicine as doctors warn toll from crisis could surpass Covid” (Guardian). This is an imminent and severe crisis point: please do help by donating or signal-boosting however much and wherever you can! You can donate to this Gofundme for essential medical supplies—it’s vetted, and the organizers are working directly with the Ministry of Health and other official agencies to make sure the funds are used effectively.

(2) Wise, bank transfer

Amalini De Sayrah’s Google doc tracks multiple relief efforts. 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 all on-the-ground 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.

(3) Venmo, Paypal, Gofundme, Wise, Bank Transfer

Saritha Irugalbandara and the others below have organized a relief effort that enables you to donate via multiple methods.

  • You can donate via Hasini Jayawardena: Venmo @sinjaya or Paypal @hjxxx8.
  • You can donate via Jonathan Wijayaratne’s Gofundme.
  • You can donate via Sri Lankan bank account with a local or international bank transfer (you can also use Wise for the latter, see instructions on how): JPIS Wijayasri, 008035372040086, Seylan Bank, Colpetty branch. SWIFT code: SEYBLKLX

Funds raised via all three methods will be transferred to Saritha in Sri Lanka, and distributed to a growing list of organizations and collectives that do ration drives and meal distribution, including Community Meal Share, Feed the Fasting, Care Station, Voice of Hope Trust, and others, several of whom you can also donate to directly with the details in the Google doc in (1).

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