The Impacts of Natural Disasters in Diverse Communities: Lessons from Tamil Nadu, South India

By Julie Drolet, Leon Ginsberg, Miriam Samuel and Grant Larson.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

On December 26, 2004, hundreds of thousands of people were directly affected by the tsunamis that crashed into the shores of countries situated on the Indian Ocean. This tragedy wrought havoc on an unprecedented scale, leaving in its wake death and destruction and a crippled coastal economy with shattered livelihoods. The local and national government, as well as bilateral agencies, and multilateral and international organizations, promptly reacted to this devastation by providing essential life-sustaining resources. Developmental schemes designed to meet the needs of marginalized sections of society–such as women, orphaned children, adolescent and unmarried girls and farmers-were implemented. While many international organizations have left Southern India, there remains a pressing concern regarding the long-term impact of interventions in several coastal districts hit by this disaster on the Tamil Nadu Coast in India. The study titled “Rebuilding Lives Post-tsunami: The Long-term Social, Economic and Gender Implications in Tamil Nadu, India” aims to develop a thorough and holistic understanding of diverse village community narratives focusing on key social, economic, gender, and health issues related to reconstruction post-tsunami. In building on pre-existing relationships with Madras Christian College in Chennai, India, and four Schools of Social Work in India, Canada, Australia, and the USA are collaborating in this research project. Strategies, new approaches and best practices for conducting social work research in diverse contexts affected by natural disasters will be discussed that are relevant to communities in a range of international contexts. This project will provide valuable insights of the effects and uses of diversity on differently situated communities in responding to natural disasters in international contexts.

Keywords: Diversity, Natural Disasters, Communities, Tsunami, Reconstruction, India, International Social Work

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp.95-108. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 824.312KB).

Dr. Julie Drolet

Assistant Professor, Social Work, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

Dr. Julie Drolet is Director of the Centre for International Social Work and Research (CISWR) at Thompson Rivers University. She maintains research interests in international social work, international development and community development and has practice, training and research experience in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Mexico, France and India, as well as with Canadian Indigenous communities and immigrant and refugee communities in Canada. She is a member of the international exchanges and research committee of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), which is the principal international organization for social work education. She is the principal investigator of several Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Canadian Institute for Health Research projects on disasters and climate change, and the recipient of a Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) infrastructure grant for her research program on climate change and disasters. She is currently Section Editor of The Canadian Journal of Development Studies (CJDS).

Dr. Leon Ginsberg

Professor, Social Work, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA

Leon Ginsberg teaches social work at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. He was formerly interim chair of the social work and physics and astronomy departments there. He has served as dean of social work at West Virginia University and the University of South Carolina. Earlier in his career, he was Commissioner of Human Services and Chancellor of Higher Education in West Virginia. He has written extensively on social work education, social work management, and social welfare policy.

Miriam Samuel

Head, Social Work, Madras Christian College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Miriam Samuel is head of the department of social work at Madras Christian College in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. She is President of the Centre for International Social Work, and engaged in research projects on Indigenous and international field education, social work and disasters.

Grant Larson

Associate Professor, Social Work, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

Grant Larson is Associate Professor and former dean of the School of Social Work and Human Service at Thompson Rivers University in Canada. His primary teaching and research interests include mental health, social work education, international social work, and disaster rehabilitation. He is currently BSW program coordinator, teaches a variety of courses from a critical theory perspective, and serves on many university, community and national boards.

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