An Ethno-political Accounting of the Sri Lankan Tsunami Impact and Recovery

  • Randall KuhnEmail author


New tools aimed at achieving accountability in the delivery of humanitarian assistance offer opportunities to understand the role foreign donors play in the domestic ethno-political landscapes of post-disaster nations. In Sri Lanka, hopes that the Indian Ocean Tsunami would facilitate further rapprochement between the Sinhalese-dominated government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were soon replaced by renewed conflict. Soon after, came widening gaps in the levels of foreign assistance reaching the disproportionately-affected Tamil and Muslim minority communities in the east and north of the island. This paper combines data from the UNDP Development Assistance Database with highly local damage and ethnic composition, to provide an in-depth accounting of the magnitude of post-Tsunami foreign assistance, the role of foreign donors in distributional inequities, and the tragic consequences of the disaster-conflict nexus. While the power bases of both the ruling United National Party and the LTTE received nearly twice the national average level of foreign assistance, the war- and tsunami-ravaged regions of the Eastern Province received as little as half the national average.


Tsunami Sri lanka Foreign assistance Aid bias Ethnic conflict 



Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam


Cease Fire Agreement


Development Assistance Database


Dollars per Affected Population


Government of Sri Lanka


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and California Center for Population ResearchLos AngelesUSA

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