Aid, Religion and Recovery in Post-tsunami Thailand

  • Monica Lindberg FalkEmail author


The focus of this paper is on aid and relief work after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Thailand. Six provinces in the south of Thailand were hit by the tsunami and the catastrophe is estimated to have altered the lives of more than 50,000 people. A disaster always hits the underprivileged hardest. Many of those who survived the tsunami had lost their homes, families, relatives, and neighbours, and this paper includes some of the survivors’ experiences of the aid situation. In contrast to India and Sri Lanka, Thailand declared early on that the country would not apply for support from foreign nations and therefore the so-called ‘third wave’ did not hit the country. However, the inflow of international non-governmental organizations, faith organizations, and other aid providers was huge. One probable reason for the influx was that the tsunami struck a popular tourist destination, and tourists from about 40 nations lost their lives or were injured by the tsunami. Religion often plays an important role in post-disaster recovery but is rarely addressed in research on disaster-relief work. This paper includes the positive and negative impact of religious institutions on aid and on post-disaster recovery in Thailand. It is based on a long-term anthropological study conducted in villages located in the Thai provinces that were the worst hit by the tsunami. This paper provides an overview of the effect of the disaster in Thailand and gives examples of how humanitarian aid was distributed, and examines how Thailand handled the relief situation. The paper gives an account of where the aid to Thai survivors came from, and exemplifies how the survivors experienced the aid situation. This paper’s special attention on religion and relief work evokes questions about why and how religion became significant after the disaster, and discusses faith-based aid and ethical concerns in post-tsunami Thailand.


Aid Religion Recovery Tsunami Thailand 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for East and South East Asian StudiesLund UniversityLundSweden

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