The purpose of this case study was to learn about the experiences of internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected by the 2004 tsunami, and who were temporarily settled into transitional shelter camps (TSCs). The goal was to learn about the perceptions of their camp experience viewed through the lens of a psychosocial framework, how those experiences changed their lives, and what consequences were associated with the distribution of humanitarian aid.

The data collection for this study involved interviews with IDPs in three transitional shelter camps located in Matara District, Sri Lanka. Initial visits to the camps were made to introduce the project and meet camp residents. Additional, repeated visits were made to the camps in order to conduct interviews.

The data in this study pointed to several findings: IDPs were disillusioned by the manner in which the government and the humanitarian aid community responded to their needs, they were disappointed by their friends’ and neighbors’ behavior, they needed information about when they could expect to be resettled, and most importantly, they needed homes.

Psychosocially speaking, IDPs continued to suffer from their trauma. Their human capacity was diminished; their social ecology had evolved towards a more individualistic style; and although severely stressed, culture and values remained relatively in tact. The case study provided data that indicated the IDP experience deteriorated over time and that their disillusionment increased as their expectations were not met. The general perception shared by all IDPs was that aid was distributed unequally, that the government did not communicate appropriately with the people, and that the government did not provide opportunities for beneficiaries to participate in their resettlement process and as such, their own recovery process.


Social Welfare