The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami devastated Ache province in Indonesia and large sections of coastal Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. The international response was immediate, with huge inflows of aid from both governmental and nongovernmental sources. The aid inflows often exceeded the estimated damage. The process was long and the disaster devastating, but the donations allowed countries to rebuild in ways that in many places resulted in improved infrastructure. A similar story plays out in most large-scale disasters affecting lower-income countries.[1]

The COVID-19 crisis is unlike any other in this regard. Because the crisis has hit all countries essentially at the same time, and has hit the high-income donor countries as well, substantial aid flows will not be forthcoming. The lower-income countries will be left largely to their own resources to deal with the health effects and economic fallout from COVID-19.


[1] See Strömberg (2007) for an analysis of disaster aid flows and Eisensee and Strömberg (2007) for an interesting analysis of how high-income country news cycles affect aid flows following disasters

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