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Orissa cyclone: The dust refuses to settle!

Four years after the super cyclone hit coastal Orissa, the local population continues to reel under its devastating effects.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2004 16:44 IST

Four years after the super cyclone hit coastal Orissa, the local population continues to reel under its devastating effects. The cyclone has torn down strong family and community ties that marked this agrarian society, increased women's vulnerability and reinforced caste divisions, a recent study by members of Sneh Abhiyan, a non-governmental enterprise to provide relief to disaster-struck parts of India, has found.

The need to access more relief forced joint families to "go nuclear". Relief agencies took family as the basic unit for providing relief, so large families broke into smaller units to claim more aid. Brother broke away from brother to get more land, food and money.

Today, these artificial divisions have become real. Violence and litigations among siblings are commonplace. The strong community bond among villagers has given way to suspicion. Worse, many families have stopped taking care of the old, and are sending them off to old-age homes.

Women, particularly widows, have become more "vulnerable". In this exceedingly patriarchal society, women never left their homes before the cyclone. Today, they head their families and are often its only earning members. With little education and no experience, they have found their new lives extremely demanding.

First Published: Mar 10, 2004 05:44 IST