ECONOMYNEXT – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa may be facing intense criticism over the worst economic crisis since independence from Britain, but international health campaigners could give him credit for putting Sri Lankans back on their feet.
The UN Environment Program and the WHO are looking forward to the day when the entire nation of 22 million will abandon fossil fuels becoming the first to achieve an enviable “zero emissions” record.
Former Lieutenant Colonel Rajapaksa, backed by the money printing central bank is marching the entire nation in step with his “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” manifesto to eliminate Non Communicable Diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, according to global health experts.
“Thanks to the president’s ban on agrochemicals, people are now forced to eat less,” a health official said on condition of anonymity. “Sri Lankan fruits and vegetables are now organic by default. It is healthier.”
Rajapaksa told a UN Food Summit in Rome in July 2021 that the rest of the world should follow his example.
“I hope that Sri Lanka’s example will help inspire more countries to take the bold steps required to sustainably transform the world food system to ensure food security and nutrition for our future generations,” Rajapaksa said.
Two months later, Rajapaksa addressed the world again ( https://www.un.int/srilanka/news/statement-he-gotabaya-rajapaksa-president-democratic-socialist-republic-sri-lanka-un-food ) and said his organic drive was also reducing rural poverty.
His claim was proved right. The WFP in its latest assessment of the country says half a million people were no longer in poverty after the organic drive. Instead, they are now in abject misery and in need of urgent food aid.
“The shortage of petrol and diesel may have actually been engineered by a far-sighted government to jolt people out of their sedentary lifestyles,” the WHO specialist said.
The UN Environment Program has already measured a considerable drop in greenhouse gas emissions in Sri Lanka in the past two weeks.
The numbers are stark. The country’s diesel consumption has dropped from 8,000 tonnes to just 1,200 tonnes a day, the amount that is released to pumping stations daily. Petrol is down from 4,000 tonnes to just below 300 tonnes a day.
The lack of LP gas is also having a salutary effect on controlling dengue. With homes switching from gas to coconut charcoal stoves or traditional firewood cooking there is the twin effect of smoking out mosquitoes and eliminating larvae breeding in coconut shells.
With his unconventional wisdom, the president is subtly carrying out a system change and effected social engineering to pull people out of their vehicles and put them back on their feet. No mean feat.
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