Millions of Sri Lankans are suffering from a dramatic drop in living standards, being forced to forgo meals, ration medications, and switch to using firewood for cooking instead of gas.
The island nation is going through its worst crisis since gaining independence from Britain in 1948. It is being severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising oil prices, and economic mismanagement by previous governments.
Many Sri Lankans are living in poverty due to rampant inflation, long lines for fuel, and shortages of basic goods like food and medicine. The previous president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was ousted in July after months of street protests.
According to the United Nations, more than one-fourth of the 22 million people living there currently struggle to find enough healthy food.
In talks with the International Monetary Fund, the administration of President Ranil Wickremesinghe is seeking a multibillion-dollar bailout as its level of desperation rises, and it is turning to important allies like India, Japan, and the United States.
However, significant financial aid is still months away, making severe austerity measures likely. As a result, few Sri Lankans will soon see an improvement in their conditions.
Long fuel lines, sometimes lasting for days, have been a regular occurrence this year as dwindling reserves have dried up supplies of gasoline, diesel, and gas.
Due to the shortages, demand for firewood is surging. According to Krishan Darshana, who was fired from a construction job during the crisis, he had helped his father in splitting logs to sell as firewood.The 25-year-old, who nowadays gets by on just a cup of tea and a few biscuits for breakfast, said, that it’s incredibly hard time as there is nothing to be done due to unemployment.