There was a massive and generous response within India to the earthquake disaster in Maharashtra, and many volunteers came to the affected areas to offer assistance. The majority of volunteers were men, and it was important to ensure that this did not mean, as so often has been the case, that the experience and particular needs of women were not fully identified and addressed. In the first weeks after the disaster women suffered increased stress because of the lack of privacy. There was no opportunity to communicate in privacy with partners, families and intimate friends. Other problems related to women’s domestic roles as managers of food and water. There were complaints about the poor quality of the relief grain, the lack of fresh vegetables, and the difficulties and cost of cooking with kerosene rather than on the wood-fired stoves, destroyed in the disaster. The use of buckets rather than water-pots made the water more liable to contamination, and the delivery of water by tanker was not well-organised, leading to a free-for all, and spillage. The following reports describe some of the problems women faced. Manisha Tokle considers some of the practical difficulties, and women’s anxieties for the future.
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