As the first cases of Covid-19 began to appear in Sri Lanka, the government took proactive, preventative measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.
This may have flattened the curve in the short term, but the strict nationwide curfews and the sudden closure of local markets has affected the general population’s access to food and other essential items, creating crowds during limited open market hours. These measures are also critically affecting food producers’ ability to deliver to the market, thereby threatening food security and livelihoods in the immediate and medium-term. This holds especially true in agricultural value chains across the island, which employ many of the countries’ most vulnerable, including women, plantation communities and day labourers.
ACTED in Sri Lanka is closely communicating with government, civil and international stakeholders, as well as over 300 rural agriculture-based micro and small businesses, to understand the rapidly changing context at the grassroots-level and identify fast-acting solutions. We are maintaining vital connections between value chain actors and consumers by mapping open markets and potential collection points, approving safe transport routes and supporting capable local businesses to act as collectors or distributors. ACTED has already developed and is managing a simple online platform to connect value chain players and facilitate the sale and delivery of produce, thereby helping MSMEs to stay open, keep vulnerable staff on the payroll and put food on the shelves of markets and local families.