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BRIEFSeptember 21, 2022

The World Bank's Emergency Response in Sri Lanka

Picture of young Sri Lankan children

Photo: kamonche/

The World Bank has moved quickly to help protect the people of Sri Lanka—particularly the poor and vulnerable—from the worst impacts of the economic crisis. 

The World Bank’s crisis response is repurposing funds from existing World Bank-financed projects to address the people's most pressing needs, including cash transfers, liquid petroleum gas, and fertilizer. 

In addition, ongoing projects in the health and education sectors will deliver medicines and medical supplies, school meals, and fee waivers for pre-school children from vulnerable families. 

The World Bank is working closely with implementing agencies to establish robust controls and fiduciary oversight to ensure these resources reach the poorest and most vulnerable. This will be monitored closely and adhere to World Bank fiduciary and safeguards requirements under emergency situations. The Bank is closely coordinating its support with other development partners, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the United Nations (UN) to maximize the impact of its support for the people of Sri Lanka.

All World Bank-financed projects are managed by the Government or Government implementing agencies. Click here to learn about how we partner with Governments.




Icon showing a family


$145 million 

  • About 3 million poor and vulnerable Sri Lankans received emergency cash transfers from May-July 2022.
  • Elderly, chronic kidney disease patients, people with disabilities, and participants in the Samurdhi welfare program (existing and waitlisted recipients) were prioritized as beneficiaries in all districts.
  • They received cash assistance payments of between LKR 5,000 and LKR 7,500 monthly as supplementary support through Divisional Secretariats, post offices, and through Samurdhi and other nominated bank accounts.





Icon showing LP gas cylinder


$70 million

  • Over 6 million LP gas cylinders distributed to urban and semi-urban households and businesses.
  • Nearly 40 percent of Sri Lanka’s population and 77 percent of the urban population is severely affected by the LPG or cooking gas shortage.
  • LP gas is the only option available for cooking for most of the urban and semi-urban population.
  • World Bank financing has supported the purchase of 85,000 MTs of LP gas to cover roughly over 4 months’ supply (July – November) to reduce acute shortages and help families and small businesses.



Icon showing medicine in a hand


$22.3 million

(disbursed to date)

  • Essential medicines, medical supplies, and nutritional supplements are urgently needed to strengthen health resources.
  • The World Bank has delivered essential medicines worth $22.3 million to the Ministry of Health.
  • The medicines will be distributed to all public hospitals at no cost, based on need, estimations, and disease patterns to ensure sufficient supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and other life-threatening diseases.

bag of fertilizer behind a piled sample


$64.6 million

(disbursed to date)

  • Sri Lanka generally requires about 150,000 metric tons (MT) of urea fertilizer for paddy cultivation in the ‘Maha’ harvesting season.
  • The World Bank emergency response is supporting the procurement of urea to meet the fertilizer requirement of close to 1 million smallholder paddy farmers in the main rice producing ‘Maha’ season.
  • The first consignment of 12,500 MT of urea has been delivered to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in October 2022. Two further contracts for 95,000 MT have been successfully signed by the MoA and a final contract for 25,000 MT is at an advance stage of finalization.
  • The fertilizer will be distributed to smallholders through Agrarian Service Centers (ASCs) island-wide at LKR 10,000 per 50kg bag. Smallholders cultivating up to 2 ha of paddy will be eligible to purchase the urea from ASCs, based on the requirement of the area of land prepared for paddy cultivation.  

*Support from on-going projects for school meals and tuition waivers for children from vulnerable households is being finalized. This table will be updated when disbursements are made. 

Postcard telling the story of Kumara
Kumara and his wife are persons with disabilities, living with their two children in Puttalam district. Their family received the cash benefit supported by the World Bank, through the existing Samurdhi program.


For any questions, please contact

Procurement Details: To view details on procurement activities under Bank-financed projects, please visit the World Bank’s online Systematic Tracking of Exchanges in Procurement (STEP) system via

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2022