Five years after the 2004 tsunami, women survivors in the south of India have created new types of self-help organisations and reconstruction options to address immediate needs and long-term development goals. Local women’s groups in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam, two of the worst affected districts in Tamilnadu (India), complement and assist the work of the public health system by providing basic healthcare services and education in the community. A village nurse tells how the delivery of these services has been made easier since the formation of women’s groups post-tsunami. A doctor and outreach service director explains that these women play the most dominant role in healthcare delivery because they are in charge of caring for the health needs of their families, and are therefore able to relate and gain access to the healthcare concerns of other families. Women’s groups from other parts of India and abroad have visited these tsunami-affected areas, providing valuable opportunities to share post-disaster rebuilding strategies. In addition to recovery efforts, local women’s groups are making important contributions to civic services, such as the building of toilets for family homes. They have also sought and received disaster preparedness training, learning how to rescue people and forming a task team comprised of men and women. Efforts such as these are particularly crucial since the government’s early warning systems have proven to be ineffective. Women’s associations have also formed many diverse micro-enterprises that have helped them become more economically stable. The stories featured in this film not only illustrate local initiative and ingenuity, but also effective uses of outside non-governmental organisation support, which assisted the development of some of these activities.
Type of publication: