Sri Lanka's post-Tsunami psychosocial playground: lessons for future psychosocial programming and interventions following disasters

This paper explores examples of unsolicited, culturally inappropriate and conflict insensitive interventions initiated by both local and international teams to Tsunami-affected populations in Sri Lanka. It also explores the apparently prevalent belief that psychosocial interventions can be delivered as ‘relief packages’ to those affected, and as part of project-based, rather than process-enabling, interventions.

The need for an integrated approach to psychosocial intervention following disasters remains a challenge for humanitarian agencies and local authorities in post-disaster settings. Regulatory mechanisms for non-governmental organisation's (NGO's), charitable or individual groups, seeking to ‘intervene’ in the mental health and psychosocial sphere in the aftermath of disasters, are challenging the complex political, donor, humanitarian and resource-poor gradients. This discussion serves to highlight the significant task of balancing humanitarian compassion with effective psychosocial programming, especially in resource-poor contexts that seem to readily absorb such interventions.

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Wickramage, Kolitha