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Chairman of SLCDF

Vidya Jyothi Emeritus Prof. Sarath Kotagama


We believe you have stayed safe at home, a new experience. Coming back to "NORMAL" is going to be another experience. COVID-19 has made a distinct impact on all of US. While we slowly recover to the so called "normal" state, it will be good to recall what existed before the COVID breakdown, and what we experienced during the months of 'lockdown'. What is this 'normal state' that we are seeking to achieve, COVID affected us directly and indirectly in many ways. For many of us the normal activity that sustained our livelihood was affected. This would have been a great blow to our sustenance and survival, but despite the disruption we have managed the situation. It is of no benefit to blame anybody or COVID, for the situation, as that will not rectify the situation. Instead it would be much more profitable to recall how we survived through those months to ensure that we will not suffer again in the future. If you managed through the donations of 'well-wishers', it would not continue after 'normalization'. Could you go back to what you were doing before? Would that source be available? Many questions will be in your mind.

Whatever it may be, the end result is definitely going to be different from what it was. It is this realization and how we will cope with this new situation that will be the most important aspect for the future. COVID provided us direct experiences that are related to the environment, health and social concerns. In the environment area, COVID showed us how bad our air quality had been.

Across the world, including Sri Lanka, the air quality improved immensely. According to the National Building Research Authority in Sri Lanka, the quality change was 70% reduction in pollution. We have been breathing dirt, no wonder we were sick!!! The question is do we want to go back to that situation again, to breath poison??? It would have made you realize how consumptive you were. All the stuff that was consumed before the lock down was not available in quantity and in some situations totally. But we have survived. We have learnt through experience the whole concept of 'SUSTAINABILITY' ? living within the means of availability. If you recall seriously, you will realize that we did have all our NEEDS, but not many or any of our WANTS. The production levels decreased, the demands changed, it is true the producers would have been affected in term of their income, but that would have proportionately affected their consumptive life too. The bottom line every body survived at a LOWER LEVEL of PRODUCTION and CONSUMPTION. Within the so called 'foot print' of the planet, much healthier and with less future worries!

COVID has clearly taught us that we cannot continue to destroy nature or mess with it. Since 1940, there have been over 335 Emerging Infections of this nature, but fortunately they were not as devastating as COVID-19. All of these have been shown to have been because of our interference with nature. If we continue with the interference, along with the increasing human numbers, there definitely will be more 'covids' to come. DO WE WANT THAT? The global impact of the COVID, has shown us very clearly how even all the best hospital facilities cannot prevent death on entering a hospital, the stark social inequalities among the rich and poor. The poor, unemployed in the developed world came in vehicles for their free food rations. We provided it to the house hold, despite the numbers developing countries have shown a great resilience in comparison to the developed world. What is the secret? There are many more similar experiences of the environment, while the social concerns are no different.

The COVID has resurfaced our family, social obligations and country commitments. We have come to realize the importance of self-sustenance. We have come to recognize the need to grow our own food in the backyard. To share what we all have. These great practices were slowly fading off from our society, COVID has resurfaced them and their values recognized. We have to keep them and develop them further to ensure that we use them for the benefit of the society at large. We at SLCDF value these principles, as our future will be based on these principles. The impact of the COVID-19 will not leave us for some time. It will hound us for a long time and affect our activities. This is the stark reality, the bitter truth.

SLCDF will however, be with you, our efforts will treble, and continue. Our present response though meagre is done with good faith and within the present capacity. We hope to follow up with more in the future. Follow all health advice and commit to be more environmentally friendly in the future.

Stay safe, be safe.
Theruwan Saranai

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