20 Jul 2015

When aid does more harm than good

From Nine To Noon, 10:07 am on 20 July 2015

Dr Simon Singh lived and worked for five years on the remote Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal - 12,000 kilometres from the Indian mainland, studying the unique culture and people.

A largely subsistence economy – the culture was inextricably tied to the islands' ecosystem. The Nicobarese fished, grew coconuts, and raised pigs and chickens. They lived in coastal villages and built their canoes and thatched houses from materials found along the coast and in the interior rainforest.

Then, the Boxing Day tsunami, just over 10 years ago, devastated the archipelago.

Dr Singh talks to Kathryn Ryan about how the subsequent humanitarian aid that came flooding into the islands caused the breakdown of the traditional culture.

Dr Simon Singh is a Professor of Social Ecology at the University of Waterloo, just outside Toronto. His research before and after the tsunami are featured in a new documentary called Aftermath: The second flood.

Pictures of Nicobar islands pre and post the Boxing Day tsunami.