When a large disaster hits – like the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – it receives international media coverage, aid is mobilised and aid agencies rush to respond. While survivors of smaller disasters might wish for such attention, there are some serious negative side-effects to these responses. Survivors are often sidelined with little influence on the responses chosen and with little control over how the external funding is used or prioritised, as these decisions rest mostly with external funders. But responses that don’t consult with them risk not only failing, but potentially weakening the communities they’re working with. It doesn’t have to be this way.