Could Post Disaster Aid Make Climate Impacts Worse? In India’s Case, Yes.

A typical morning at a fishing harbor in Nagapattinam, India. Image: Karthikeyan Hemalatha

The deadly Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people in 14 countries and in response people across the world donated almost $6.25 billion in relief money.  Thousands of fishermen lost their boats.  In response, relief funds triggered an unsustainable investment in better boats, higher-tech “ring seine” nets, and that led to overcapacity in fisheries that set off a wave of overfishing that “changed the coastal ecology and the local economy in parts of Southern India forever.”

Worth Your Time:  This recent article in the online newsletter about development aid tells the tragic story of how a sudden influx of disaster relief money from the Boxing Day tsunami resulted in the fish catch in Tamil Nadu, a region in southern India, increased by nearly 75% in the 10 years following the tsunami.

Why This Matters:  Disaster relief proved to be a tsunami of a different sort — but equally devastating.  We have to learn the lessons of previous disasters like this one and ensure that when we rebuild and replace, we do so sustainably.

H/T: To #FriendofthePlanet Tom G for pointing out to us this cautionary tale.

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