Psychosocial Issues of Disasters and the Aftermath: A Second Victimisation ...
Psychosocial Issues of Disasters and the
Aftermath: A Second Victimisation
The article presents a summary analysis of the secondary psychosocial stressors
and impact in the four-year aftermath of the Marathwada Earthquake Rehabilita-
tion Project. The analysis reflects upon the day-to-day relations and experiences
with villagers from the 52 core affected villages from 1993-1997. This paper
seeks to trace the relationship between the change in psychological perspective as
brought from the actual impact of the earthquake and then the ongoing relief and
rehabilitation process. It focuses particularly on the impact of the 'rehabilitation
package' and identifies eight key stages/milestones of the rehabilitation process
and analyses the specific psychosocial consequences and impact of each stage.
Ms. Jane Aubrey was part of the Community Health Team of the Catholic Hospi-
tal Association of India and later on as Department Manager, Community Reha-
bilitation, Oxfam. Mr. S. Krishnadas has been working on socio-legal issues in
the earthquake-affected regions of Latur, Jabalpur, and Gujarat.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) Report (1992) highlights the
key activities of coping with disasters as essentially 'national pre-
paredness, preventative and mitigation measures'. It reflects that the
aspects of coping with disasters should include consideration of
psychosocial components as: 'these can have an impact on people's
behaviour before, during and after a disaster occurs, as well as being
important in influencing the overall patterns of post-disaster morbid-
ity' ( W H O , 1992: 1).
This article seeks to examine this relationship further, in specific
relation to the impact of the disaster rehabilitation measures and the
secondary psychosocial stressors. Secondary psychosocial stressors
are defined in the W H O Report (1992: 9) as
certain specific stresses that can arise in the wake of disasters, conse-
quent upon social changes. These include the displacement of individu-
als to other geographic areas, housing people in camps, unemployment,

Psychosocial Issues of Disasters and the Aftermath 207
inactivity and lack of recreational possibilities, the fostering of depend-
ency in survivors, general disruption of the social fabric and the break-
down of traditional forms of social support. Temporary camps
providing inadequate facilities are known to house victims for years.
Disruption of families can also have important psychosocial conse-
quences upon the members and particularly on small children with no
accompanying adults.
Such 'stressors' were vividly present in the post-Marathwada
earthquake. Further, this study of the Marathwada earthquake relief
and rehabilitation indicates that the physical intervention has a direct
and causative impact of the later termed 'secondary psychosocial
stressors'. The study indicates that primary emotions experienced im-
mediately after the earthquake such as fear, grief, loss of control,
helplessness and anger have been reinforced in the rehabilitation pro-
cess. According to our independent personal experience of the
Marathwada earthquake rehabilitation, this study will indicate the im-
portance of applying the understanding of psychosocial impact of di-
sasters to the psychosocial consequences of the 'rehabilitation
The Marathwada Earthquake of September 30, 1993, affected 13
districts, causing damage to over 200,000 houses, destruction of 90
villages and death of over 9,000 people. The devastation caused by
the earthquake led to the relocation and reconstruction of 52 villages
of Latur and Osmanabad districts. The implementation of the
Maharashtra Emergency Earthquake Rehabilitation Policy (MEERP)
has provided a contemporary and succinct example of a period of de-
fined external intervention, which sought to 'reconstruct' the area ac-
cording to its own political objectives of economic development and
The 1992 WHO Report states:
the tendency in the past to consider that the basic needs of the popula-
tions affected by a disaster were to be met essentially in terms of pro-
viding shelter, food, sanitation and immunisation against epidemics.
Their psychosocial needs were seen as something too secondary to at-
tract the attention of relief agencies and relief workers.
In such a situation it is clear that not only are psychosocial needs
secondary, but their integral impact on the success of the rehabilita-
tion policy is disregarded.
With reference to international psychosocial analysis, the WHO
Report (1992) presents an epidemiology and description of
psychosocial reactions to disasters, which traces emotional reactions,

208 Jane Aubrey and S. Krishnadas
psychological disorders, and specific psychosocial consequences fol-
lowing the disaster. The extensive study conducted of the
Marathwada earthquake affected individuals by PRO-LIFE
(Mumbai, 1994) of 2,152 earthquake affected individuals concludes
that 60 per cent of the study population suffered from post-traumatic
stress disorder as compared to 0.2 per cent of the control population.
However, negligible psychosocial support was present.
Ausa and Omerga Talukas were the key affected areas of Latur and
Osmanabad Districts. These comprise remote rural villages situated
approximately one hour from the township of Latur. The roads were
of rough standard and other than an infrequent bus service, the interior
villages are difficult to access particularly in the rainy seasons when
the villages are cut off completely. The villages were, therefore, ac-
customed to an insular and highly self-sufficient lifestyle.
The community operates according to traditional caste structures
with 80 per cent of the population engaged in agriculture. The area is
rich with black cotton fertile soil in which a variety of standard crops
like jowari, and udad, and toor dals are grown for home consumption.
In recent times, the commercialisation of agriculture has led to rich
farmers concentrating their crops on sunflower, groundnut, sugar-
cane, grapes, pomegranates and mangoes as cash crops.
Majority of the housing stock was constructed in stone, white mud
and timber. Materials were available locally and transported from vil-
lage to village by bullock carts. The stone and mud had excellent ther-
mal qualities keeping the house cool and the timber/earthen roof
insulated the house further from the heat and rains.
The houses were designed by the head of the household according
to the needs of the joint family. Every household had a high thick
stone boundary wall creating a secure open space within the com-
pound and serving as an outer back wall and side wall for the rooms
constructed. The front of the area opened to a courtyard with a roof
above for the cattle or sheep. This courtyard provided the main living
area for summer, food preparations, cleaning and drying grains, a play
area for the children, and a general cool, protected area for general
family living area which was comfortable for women to meet.
The villages were designed in a royal fashion, with an outer village
wall having an arched entrance gate. In Nandurga village, the houses

Psychosocial Issues of Disasters and the Aftermath 209
were built on raised ground for defence reasons around an ornate vil-
lage temple dating back as far as 400 years.
Though the village layout was often segregated according to caste,
villages such as Gubal had Muslim and Hindu families living side by
side as neighbours. In every village, community life had evolved in a
harmonious way, with minimal migratory practice. Essentially the vil-
lages had lived as one 'family' over generations, sharing the same his-
tory and experiences. All religious festivals were celebrated together
and marriages were conducted according to the traditional village prac-
tice with each family participating in the preparations. An annual
prayer festival was held for a period of seven days for which the vil-
lages contributed to prepare food for the entire village to partake of to-
The Gram Panchayat functioned in the village to manage local wa-
ter supply and basic amenities. Primary schools were present in most
villages with secondary schooling provided only in the larger vil-
lages. Gram Panchayat schemes operated from the Taluka Block De-
velopment Office, including DRDA. Employment schemes for
uneducated youth and a literacy scheme, which had been in operation
for two years prior to the earthquake, were also in operation. Hence
the area had a wealth of traditional resources and through its organisa-
tional structure had evolved its own efforts towards rural develop-
The Marathwada Earthquake was a horrifying experience — in a mat-
ter of minutes thousands of people were killed and thousands more in-
jured over a small and concise homogenous rural geographic area.
The 1992 WHO Report presents an epidemiology and description of
psychosocial reactions to disaster. This includes severe physical in-
jury, exposure to extreme danger, witnessing death of close ones and
mass deaths, combined with the traumatic experience of helplessness,
hopelessness, separation and the need to choose between helping oth-
ers or fighting for one's own survival. The specific behavioural pat-
tern characterised by a stunned, dazed and apparently disengaged
behaviour called 'disaster syndrome' has been described as a re-
sponse to impact and the immediate aftermath. If the reactions such as
flashbacks, intrusions and frightening memories, anxiety, numbness
are maintained for more than a few weeks, they represent a
'post-traumatic stress disorder' (WHO, 1992: 8).

210 Jane Aubrey and S. Krishnadas
The experience of Latur and Osmanabad demonstrates the differ-
ence in the psychological consequences of this immediate
post-disaster phase according to the ability of the community to draw
on its own strengths and resources in comparison to adopt an attitude
of dependency on external relief agents. The immediate post-disaster
phase is often overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness and victimisa-
tion. However, due to the isolation of the area, survivors began their
own rescue operations immediately after the shock of the earthquake
by attempting to rescue those trapped under the rubble. The disaster
was also a time for witnessing tremendous caring for others, such as in
the case of Balagi of Nandurga, who spent the entire night and the
next day in rescuing victims from the first earthquake-hit village
Killari, before finally reaching his village to tend to his own family
members. Such a time also demonstrated the strength of the commu-
nity. The focus of energies into the rescue effort brought forth a deter-
mination in the survivors where their inner strengths brought about
heroic acts and saving of lives. This was observed through the narra-
tion of the survivors of the earthquake. Those who had engaged in res-
cue activities of some sort and came together to assist, reflected on the
positive aspects of how they had rescued and saved lives, and had also
survived. Stories such as the little three-year old girl who was found
alive under the wreckage in Mungrul, brought glimmers of hope and
psychological encouragement of the importance of those still alive,
rather than the feelings of hopelessness in being unable to save lives.
In villages where there was partial damage, that is Bet Jawalgar and
Koral, the households which had suffered less damage, proudly re-
lated stories of how they had prepared food for the entire village. This
brought a clear indication of the psychological impact, as in villages
where they were able to draw resources together they experienced a
feeling of community strength and survival.
However, in the larger villages of Killari, and Gubal, the families
related how they almost starved for two days until the relief trucks ar-
rived and at that point how they had felt at being 'reduced to beggars'
and the consequent recurring feelings of shame, helplessness and loss
of dignity.
The Marathwada earthquake was reported as a mass area of de-
struction. However, the earthquake had actually struck a specific area
of Latur and Osmanabad Districts. The intensity of damage and de-
struction was attributed largely to the poor quality of construction in
the rural areas. Only 40 minutes away from the core area, the pukka

Psychosocial Issues of Disasters and the Aftermath 211
small townships of Ausa and Omerga Talukas were untouched and lo-
cal government departments and colleges immediately rushed to the
disaster area to provide aid and assistance. Latur Town is a
well-developed area, having been a model of development and the
constituency of Shivaraj Patil (ex-Speaker of the Lok Sabha). Local
industry and business were able to respond immediately to the disas-
ter with financial help and distributions. Shou College, a leading De-
gree college in Maharashtra, immediately deputed teams of students
to the area and over the initial weeks conducted comprehensive com-
munity education programmes on health, sanitation and earthquake
information. Morale was lifted by the local response in that once
again narratives of the earthquake reflected the fact that people cared
for them. Though the influx of volunteers is often discouraged as it
complicates and obstructs the rescue and relief effort, volunteers can
actually provide tremendous psychological strength as the villagers
can reflect on the 'good people' who had come and shared their sor-
From October 1, 1993, onwards the government's response was
marked by the actual presence of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra
who camped in the villages to oversee the relief efforts. Convoys of
relief trucks entered the core-affected area distributing milk, grains,
clothes, cooking vessels, blankets, and so on. The government re-
sponse was phenomenal and the public response staggering. Within
10 days basic amenities were provided. The government announced a
ration scheme of 7 kilograms jowari, 1 kilogram wheat flour, rice,
sugar, groundnut oil, onions and potatoes. Water was supplied by
government tankers and repair of bore-wells was undertaken by the
Public Works Department. In less than 2 months, 60 per cent of the
construction of the temporary shelters for the 52 recognised 'A' cate-
gory villages were complete. Some villagers also constructed make-
shift huts from salvaged materials and within a week of the
earthquake, a number of families had begun their own reconstruction.
At Jawalga Pomedevi, a farmer put up his hut near his field and was
ploughing the field to sow the second crop — sunflower. Such
self-motivated and community action brought an immediate lift to the
lives of people towards a sense of normalcy.
In addition to response at the village, local and state levels,
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) rallied to the area to provide
both immediate relief and long-term support. A larger number of
NGOs reached the area to conduct relief work. However, there was

212 Jane Aubrey and S. Krishnadas
general confusion as to what to do and how. Most NGO initiatives,
which largely focussed on distribution and income-generation activi-
ties (such as distribution of tailoring machines, livestock, and so on),
created congestion and confusion. This was exacerbated by troops of
funding agencies invading the place, all trying to sell their funds. The
high profile nature of the earthquake had led to huge international
fundraising activities. 'Given high publicity and relatively small area
of relief distribution, territorial squabbles are to be expected' (Oxfam
Field Report, 1993). An NGO Coordination Committee was formed
in order to coordinate the efforts of 120 volunteers working in six vil-
lages. These volunteers helped the villages in rescue operations, set
up temporary sheds, cooked and distributed food and set up distribu-
tion system for relief supplies, and so on.

Excess Relief
The Marathwada earthquake witnessed a tremendous relief effort,
launched immediately after the earthquake. However, in the long-term,
the often uncoordinated and unplanned nature of this intervention can
lead to an increasing severity of psychosocial impact. After a period of
time, the prolonged relief effort saturated the affected area and adverse
consequences were felt as market prices rose, farm labourers awaited
distributions rather than returning to the fields and the politicised prom-
ises brought confusion and uncertainties. In Nandurga, the villagers re-
quested the local NGO to stop the distributions so as to allow the
villagers to return to their daily tasks. Such distributions were consid-
ered unnecessary, time consuming and aggravated the village relations
as they were always marked by people 'fighting' for things they did not
need. In the core villages, different distributions from the government
and the NGOs arrived at the same time causing total confusion. Many
of the items distributed were unfamiliar to the local people and fast dis-
tribution methods, such as dropping items from helicopters gave no un-
derstanding as to what and how to use items. A 'Boots Medical Kit'
complete with disposable syringes, aspirin, bandages and tissue paper
was found in a shed locked and used as a table. Water purification tab-
lets were used directly in glasses of water. The most horrific was an im-
ported milk powder, distributed one year after the expiry date.

Psychosocial Issues of Disasters and the Aftermath 213
The volunteers created an uplifting presence in the villages and
though inexperienced, provided effective counselling to affected fam-
ilies in their sheer numbers and ability to visit families on a
house-to-house basis. However, the volunteers also became tired and
unsure of the manner and form to help after a period of time. Most vol-
unteers felt that, being outsiders, their capacity was limited and de-
cided to do whatever they could until early November and then
resume their normal duties.
Anxiety and Abandonment
Both professional and voluntary efforts made an impact on the com-
munity, which was elated with the presence of dedicated and enthusi-
astic volunteers who initiated house to house counselling, medical
camps, street plays, community groups, and so on. At a time when
government intervention is minimal, such voluntary action is indeed
lifesaving. However, in Latur the influx of volunteers was random
and unsustainable. Just six months after the earthquake, there was an
almost evacuation-like process of the area by the large number of vol-
unteers and professionals, and a feeling of abandonment, disillusion-
ment and perhaps a rude awakening to the reality that the people faced
before them. In our camp alone, from the initial strength of 70 volun-
teers for 10 villages, there were just six volunteers left by February to
care for the same number of villages. This led to a very physical sense
of desertion among the people, as well as a feeling of individual loss
of the social and health workers who had become so close (perhaps
too close) to the families and their grief.
Six months after the earthquake marked a time of change, where
the people deputed for relief and rehabilitation from the government
and voluntary sector had to return to their permanent duties and com-
mitments. The government and NGOs were busy drawing up funding
proposals and accordingly drafting plans. It was also a point in time
where terrific expectations had been built up on the reassuring words
of volunteers that the people would get houses, jobs, proper health
care, and so on.
In psychological terms, the seven month cycle is presented in terms
of a sequel of emotions of disbelief, loss, anger and grief, and it is un-
derstood that it is often months after the death of a loved one that real-
ity sets in. This was the most visual and hard-hitting point in time
where the survivors were perhaps at their most vulnerable and were
faced with broken promises and false expectations.

214 Jane Aubrey and S. Krishnadas
From November 1993, the emergency relief phase was 'officially
over'. Those government personnel transferred on emergency duties
returned to their original posts. Government mobile clinics were with-
drawn and the supply of free medicines to NGOs providing service to
the area was stopped. Conditions in the temporary shelters became
acute and the absence of sanitation facilities in crowded living condi-
tions created outbreaks of diarrhoea and gastroenteritis. Scabies was
rampant, as there was no area to wash clothes or indeed get clean water
to do so. The deterioration of the 'temporary sheds' became hazardous
as the roofs were lifted in storms. People once again faced fear and de-
struction of their belongings. There was nowhere to store their grains
and the frequent rains destroyed their property. 'Temporary' electric
connections proved fatal as fires occurred in Lamjana, Gubal and
Sarani villages destroying more than 100 sheds, personal property and
It was at this point in time, and perhaps the only 'breathing space'
in the rehabilitation process, that the affected people were left to ad-
dress the question of how to rebuild their lives. The response was not
only positive; it also held out a strengthening and onward direction as
villagers could plough their sorrows and loss into hard work and con-
trol. However, simultaneously, rehabilitation plans were being drawn
up by the authorities. International agencies advocated that if the ben-
efits of this project were to be sustainable, it was important that the
project be planned and implemented with the help of the community.
Active participation by the different social groups in each village
should ensure that the houses were built to a layout, which supported
the lifestyle of villagers. The process should also generate a sense of
involvement within the community, which will hopefully counteract
any feelings of dependency, which may develop as the government is
leading the reconstruction effort. However, a senior Overseas Devel-
opment Agency (now the Department for International Development)
official related that 'While the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary
carefully listened to our earnest recommendations of community par-
ticipation, low cost and local designed houses, the telephone lines
were buzzing as contracts were issued and trucks and tempos packed
full of cement and steel headed out to Latur'.
The reconstruction plan, in fact, presented the largest construction
package ever to bidding contractors. The provision of relocated

Psychosocial Issues of Disasters and the Aftermath 215
villages presented open green field sites ready for mass construction
projects. The State Government's key objective was to complete the
housing within six months and gain the confidence and votes of the
people. It, therefore, demanded fast blanket contractor constructions,
which had little regard for community participation.
Local politics thrived on the reconstruction effort, as it was sud-
denly endowed with money and muscle-power. The traditional forum
of the Gram Panchayat, which was to be responsible to the Gram
Sabha, was side stepped by the new village level committees (VLCs).
The VLC was set up as an independent body by the World Bank to se-
lect the donor agency, contractor, site selection and house allocations.
The VLC, although on paper included the Gram Panchayat, women
and backward caste representatives, was dominated by local leaders
who were entitled to take all the key decisions without village con-
sent. The World Bank time frame for community consultation to take
place within two weeks also gave no time to educate or prepare the
villagers to partake in the process. The agencies exercised the same
pressure regarding time and our village reports indicate the hand-in-
hand relationships between the village leaders, NGOs and govern-
ment officials. Though separate NGO efforts were made to empower
the disadvantaged groups, they were conducted as an independent
long-term strategy which did not directly monitor or influence the
central VLC.
The move from the advocated 'community-led' reconstruction pro-
cess to the contractor-based reconstruction caused a 'humiliation' of
the local people. From a position of self-sufficiency, the people became
absolutely dependent on the outsiders 'rehabilitating them'. The WHO
Report (1992) notes that the response to the challenge of the disaster
appears to show greater strengths and coping, which leads to enhanced
social and community functioning. However, feelings of redundancy,
uselessness, weakness and alienation often leads to dependency, alco-
holism and social withdrawal. In Latur, the community's own inner
strengths, traditional skills and craftsmanship and local natural re-
sources were made redundant by the alien and urban style rehabilitation
programme. In essence, they were literally displaced from their own
land and identity.
Traditionally, the construction of a house was a very personal
endeavour in which the house-owner had total direction and control.

216 Jane Aubrey and S. Krishnadas
The traditional houses had been designed by the head of the household
to accommodate the family's working and living needs. This created a
personal design, which was incorporated in the house according to in-
dividual characteristics. Shepherds would have a large compound
area to safely enclose their sheep and goats. A cattle shed was built ad-
joining the house. Farmers had a specific area earmarked in their
houses for storing their grains. Carpenters and craftsmen had large
courtyards which served as their working area. Senior members of the
village would have traditional reception areas or a hallway for guests.
Despite tremendous lobbying, research, and a firm commitment in
the preamble of the State Government's Maharashtra Earthquake Re-
habilitation Project, of the 52 villages which were relocated, not one
house was constructed using local materials or design. The Donor
Agency Programme originally set the scene with technological exper-
iments such as the geometric design. The government housing was
dominated by the initial Maharashtra Housing Agency and Develop-
ment Authority design, a modified version of Mumbai slum housing
projects. Such houses, in no way, accommodate the lifestyle of villag-
ers. The new house design was a uniform box structure in which there
was no provision for keeping livestock, storing grains, an open living
area, or a separate cooking area. Further:
1. Land prices rocketed as land was acquired for new sites.
Locally available recyclable materials of stone, mud and tim-
ber were discarded, while cement, steel and sand were im-
ported to the area. The increased demand of water for
construction left the entire area parched of water for domestic
and agricultural use.
2. The building materials and technology alienated the people
from the reconstruction process. During reconstruction and
due to the allocation of houses after completion, a
house-owner had no opportunity to monitor, supervise or even
observe the construction of his/her own house. This distanced
the house-owner both psychologically and practically.
3. The unit housing system could only accommodate a nuclear
family. The majority of families had lived as joint families for
generations. The housing allocation process was often con-
ducted on a random basis and placed family members at oppo-
site ends of the vast colonies. This disrupted the entire family
living system as it forced the introduction of independent
cooking, shopping and division of properties leading to family

Psychosocial Issues of Disasters and the Aftermath 217
disputes and, often, total isolation of older family members
who had to take care of themselves.
4. The village layout was designed in a 'grid-type' form. Artifi-
cial 'open spaces' were provided for 'community activities'.
Traditionally, such community gathering places and activities
had evolved within the village according to the environment,
that is, often the meeting place was under a huge mango tree
providing shade. Such an environment was absent from the
new 'green-field sites', which had cleared all 'obstructions' in
view of the mass reconstruction.
The size of the village was also dramatically increased. Killari vil-
lage was increased from 50 hectares to 150 hectares. The rationale
again was 'development'. Roads of 9 metres were devised to accom-
modate vehicles, where functionally bullock carts were used on roads
of a 4-5 metre stretch. This extension of the village changed the close
interaction with villagers. Previously, village meetings were called by
sounding the temple bells; now it was impossible to physically call all
the households and often separate meetings had to be held in separate
areas of the village.
Cultural considerations were not taken into account. This was par-
ticularly evident with regard to the tribal villages. In the Banjara com-
munity of Nandurga and Limbala Tande, the houses were
traditionally arranged to face the sun, their God. The grid-type hous-
ing colony did not accommodate such beliefs. Further, the shift from
the old village to the new was considered 'damned' by the villagers.
This was because the entire village did not shift as a community with
the village idol, but rather in an ad hoc way — some before and some
after the village idol. This deepened psychological fears and extended
the unsettled feelings among the community.
Marathwada custom kept women very much within the home. The
open private courtyard in the joint family home allowed for women to
sit and chat while busy in household activities and watching over the
children at play. The colony style layout obstructed such vital day-to-
day interaction as there was no private area to gather. Rather, they
would have to sit alongside the roadsides or walk to the 'official' open
space, both of which were unacceptable in the traditional village cul-
ture and unfamiliar to women. Such elimination of cultural condi-
tions, though perhaps favourable in the eyes of 'development' could
not be accepted in such an instant and enforced manner. This caused
tremendous upset and disorientation of the people.

218 Jane Aubrey and S. Krishnadas
The relocation policy led to a series of divisions among the people and
their effective displacement from their lands and livelihoods. The site
selection process was dominated by the 'new development approach'
of the town city planners who chose that sites should be on the
roadsides, yet a distance of up to 8 kilometres away from a villager's
fields. Disputes over site selection led to villages being divided ac-
cording to the landed and landless. A series of new villages arose such
as Nandurga I, Nandurga II; Ashiv I, Ashiv II; Killari I, Killari II; and
so on. Such divisions essentially created caste conflicts.
Life or Livelihood
In Sarani village, the houses were reconstructed on one site located 6
kilometres away from the fields. The villagers filed a petition stating
that such a relocation would essentially lead to loss of livelihood and
displacement from their traditional water and land resources. The pe-
tition is currently stayed in the High Court. The houses remained un-
occupied for 18 months despite the provision of all community
facilities; instead the villagers struggled in the temporary shelters fac-
ing storms, and electrical fires. Eventually the poorer landless and the
lower caste people were forced to shift. The richer, high caste farmers
were able to reconstruct houses near their fields. The small-scale
farmers are forced to remain stranded between the choice of life or
Site Congestion
The traditional sites were located approximately 6 kilometres away
from each other. They were positioned on higher grounds for defence
purposes and close to a water source for domestic and agricultural
needs. They were surrounded by the village fields on which they
worked daily and also provided open field space for sanitation pur-
poses. Many villages had 'ladies' and 'gents' areas allocated for
morning and evening usage.
Due to availability of land and in accordance with the 'township'
approach, new villages were resettled side by side. Within 6 kilo-
metres, Gangekheda, Mungrul, Gubal, Nandurga Tande and Limbala
Tanda villages are situated in an urban row. The housing colony
stretches back from the roadside as far as the eye can see. The open
fields are out of sight, and hence villagers have to walk 4-6 kilometre

Psychosocial Issues of Disasters and the Aftermath 219
for daily needs or instead use the congested roadside. Water is pro-
vided through a constructed pipeline, the construction of which is still
pending in many sites or under repair. In Hassalgaon, the villagers left
the completed houses vacant for more than eight months due to the se-
vere water shortage, their frustration leading to the eventual
vandahsation of the new houses. This vandalisation is reminiscent of
the vandalisation of the housing societies constructed in England in
the fifties and the sixties. Analysis has shown that concrete box struc-
tures create an aggressive psychology of frustration and isolation.
The rehabilitation package had a specific impact on the economy, as
well as on the social, political and cultural aspects of people's lives,
all of which had specific psychosocial impact as examined below
The contractor-based construction programme created a superfi-
cial economy which generated a tremendous amount of money yet not
in the rural economy. This shift from a self-sustaining agricultural
community to a cash-based consumerism was a sudden step into ur-
banisation. Traditional skilled labourers like the wadars, govinde and
sutars were discarded from the housing process, while skilled and un-
skilled labourers were brought in from outside Maharashtra. The con-
struction programme employed the local landless unskilled labourers.
The increased income from construction work to the landless came as
cash-in-hand without any source for re-investment and hence became
'money-to-burn'. These unskilled labourers also preferred to work on
construction sites to agricultural fields as they were paid more in the
former. Landed farmers faced an acute shortage of labourers and were
forced to abandon crops.
Such impact had a psychological and social impact as the feeling
'live for the day' ran through the psyche of the earthquake survivors.
The extra income provided by the rehabilitation effort in combination
with uninformed fears of another earthquake and unpredictable future
led to a rash consumerism among the people. Widowers were keen to
remarry quickly in order to continue the family line. In contrast, the
widows which were still bound by the traditional rules of
non-marriage, were almost ostracised from the village. Families were
keen to marry their daughters fast in fear they may die in a future
earthquake leaving their girl children unprotected. The increase in
marriages led to an increase in dowry demands from an average of Rs.
5,000-50,000. The excess money created a black market for

220 Jane Aubrey and S. Krishnadas
redundant villagers. The loss of control and direction felt by the vil-
lagers led to an increase in alcoholism, reaching a peak in the core vil-
lages of with at least one member affected in every household.
The influx of migrant workers in the villages led to an abrupt cul-
ture shock to the otherwise insular rural area. In Nandurga, the popu-
lation almost doubled due to the settlement of migrant construction
labourers. Cramped living conditions in temporary sheds over a pe-
riod of five years led to an urban style existence where the girl-child
could not always receive due care and protection. Prostitution became
more 'commercial' within the villages with the mass of migrant con-
struction workers living alone for months on end. Severe health risks,
including the incidence of HIV, became prevalent in the area.
Disaster Mitigation
From the outset of the damage assessment reports, the extent and
magnitude of damage was attributed, not to the intensity of the earth-
quake or the type of building construction, but essentially to the poor
quality of construction in the area. The reports focussed on the need to
educate villagers about the newly discovered earthquake prone nature
of the area. The entire reconstruction process was supposed to com-
bine an emergency response with a developmental approach by creat-
ing a capacity within the village to construct their own earthquake-
resistant housing. Such objectives were sidelined for assumed politi-
cal and economic reasons.
The lack of effective earthquake awareness and education en-
trenched a constant fear within the people. Our detailed survey con-
ducted for the Building Material Technology and Promotion Council
of the Government of India indicated that a negligible percentage of
earthquake-affected people understood how to repair and maintain
the basic structure of the house; how to extend such structures using
the same technology; knew where to purchase or how to transport the
materials; or had access to the infrastructure required in order to con-
struct in such technique and could financially afford to construct in
the same fashion. Many of the villagers had already commenced con-
struction of the new houses located in their fields using the local mate-
rials of stone and mud in precisely the same technique as that which
was responsible for killing their families.

Psychosocial Issues of Disasters and the Aftermath 221
However, though such reports indicate the acute human impor-
tance of psychosocial intervention and analysis we witnessed the low
priority given to the research, training and infrastructure to attend to
the psychosocial consequences of disasters.
National Disaster Management
Since the devastating Marathwada Earthquake in 1993, we have ex-
perienced three more severe earthquakes in Jabalpur, Garhwal, and
Gujarat. In addition, there have been tremors in seismic zones, in-
cluding Mumbai. Each of the earthquakes has been the subject of a
range of workshops and documentation. Extensive disaster manage-
ment research and training has been commissioned at the interna-
tional, governmental and non-government levels.
Yet, to date, there is no national disaster response policy regarding
interventions in earthquakes. It is left up to the State Governments to
determine its own role in disaster situations. The Central Government
provides support in research and provides a limited fund for finance
under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture, as Disaster Relief
National Fund.
This ad hoc measure has resulted in diverse responses among State
Governments, no better realised in the comparative situation of the
Marathwada Earthquake, whose Chief Minister led his government
into a highly proactive response, and the Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh)
earthquake of equal physical destruction to property, where the dis-
missive reaction led to the low key passive response of the govern-
The Gujarat earthquake of 2001, was the most visual tragedy as
television screens presented images of the Republic Day's vibrant
processions while thousands of lives were trapped, traumatised and
lost under concrete rubble in the so called 'golden hour' of rescue and'
relief ethics. Though repeated lessons are learnt, it seems that only
lives account for the failure in disaster management.
This paper is based on the day-to-day field experience of the Marathwada earthquake
and its aftermath, which compelled us to stay and work in the affected villages for
more than four years. The observations and reflections presented in this article are
based on chronological dairy entries over a period of four years and must be attributed

222 Jane Aubrey and S. Krishnadas
to the privileged experience of living and working in the same temporary shelters in
the villages. As such, the paper presents a telling trajectory of the psychological and
social aftermath of the earthquake and the rehabilitation process from 1993-1997.
This paper recounts a living experience of how the immediate psychological impact of
the disaster perpetrated into every aspect of the people's lives. More than this, the pa-
per indicates that the psychosocial impact of the actual disaster was reinforced in dif-
ferent stages of an externally planned rehabilitation of the area. It draws upon the
initial determination and strengths demonstrated by the people, and analyses the slow
deterioration of the self-will and self-determination in the rehabilitation process, as
victims were alienated from their lands, natural resources and identities.
THE INDIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, Volume 63, Issue 2, April 2002