Objectives: This case study examines the impact of humanitarian aid from the perspectives of local stakeholders in Sri Lanka following the tsunami disaster of December 2004. \ud \ud Study Design: Qualitative study using key-informant and focus group interviews.\ud \ud Methods: Key-informant and focus group interviews were conducted with tsunami survivors, community leaders, the local authorities and aid workers sampled purposively. Data collected was analysed using thematic analysis. \ud \ud Results: The study found that aid had aggravated social tensions and the lack of community engagement led to grievances. There was a perceived lack of transparency, beneficiary expectations were not always met and it was difficult to match aid to needs. Rapid participatory approaches to obtain beneficiary feedback in post disaster settings are possible but have limitations due to respondent bias. \ud \ud Conclusions: In order to mitigate adverse social impacts of their programmes, humanitarian aid agencies need to better understand the context in which aid is delivered. Beneficiary feedback is essential in disaster planning and response so that disaster response can be better matched to the needs of beneficiaries.\u
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