Poverty reduction at the national level has been slow in Sri Lanka due to widening disparities across sectors and regions a new World Bank report, “Poverty Assessment for Sri Lanka: Engendering Growth with Equity: Opportunities and Challenges” points out.
“We hope the report will contribute to the debate and understanding of poverty in Sri Lanka,” said Naoko Ishii, World Bank Country Director in Sri Lanka. Poverty reduction has been hampered by slow economic growth outside the Western Province which remains predominantly rural.
Sri Lanka needs to integrate the rural economy into the growth path enjoyed by the Western Province,” Ishii added.
The report states that poverty reduction in Sri Lanka has been uneven across sectors—rapid in the urban sector, but slow or stagnant in rural and estate sectors. National poverty rate reduced from 26 percent in 1990-91 to 23 percent in 2002.
While urban poverty halved during this period, rural poverty declined by less than five percentage points and poverty in the estates (plantation sector) increased significantly— making this sector the poorest in the country. These estimates exclude the North and East, for which data suitable for measuring poverty was not available.