Complex Disasters on the Nicobar Islands
This chapter is a case study of a local rural system affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The Asian tsunami clearly revealed the vulnerability of coastal communities with respect to dealing with ecological hazards. An area that
was greatly affected was the Nicobar Islands, an archipelago belonging to India and located in the Bay of Bengal. Critiquing disaster management and humanitarian aid structures, the chapter considers how an indigenous, subsistence, island community of hunter-gatherers was transformed into an aid-dependent monetary economy
embedded in the regional market. Drawing on the concept of social metabolism and transitions, the chapter presents various scenarios of consumption and the consequences these will have on future material and energy demand, land use and time use for the local population. The case reveals the inherent metabolic traps in terms of the islands’ sustainable future, both ecologically and socially, and the role of disaster response in driving them to their biophysical limits as islands in the aftermath.