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Case Studies of Food Insecurity in Bundelkhand

The Public Distribution System (PDS) is meant to prevent chronic hunger and starvation but as case studies presented at a public hearing organised by ABSSS in December 2007 showed, PDS often fails to reach people who need food the most. The case studies also brought out other aspects of  food insecurity in Bundelkhand. Widows, the aged, children and people suffering from TB are most vulnerable. A number of poor families have no working males and are barely surviving without any support system
  • Sixty-five-year-old  Keskali Kol  is a widow with disability of right hand, living in a ramshackle hut in Itwah-Dudaila village, in the Patha region of Chitrakoot. She owns barely 1.5 bighas of land. Her husband died in the early 1980s. One adult son was killed in 2006. A second son lives with his in-laws in another village. Keskali used to feed her stomach by leasing out her land.

During the 2003-2007 drought, the land could not be cultivated. Keskali survived for some time by stealing some firewood from other Kols gathered at Manikpur railway station, waiting to take the wood by train to Satna, to sell it there. She would also take the train to Satna and return with some money. But then the shuttle service to Satna was discontinued. Keskali then had no option but to simply go door to door, begging for food. She should have got a pension as a widow, a house under the Indira Awas Yojana and free rations.                                   

But, as she told in the December 2007 public hearing at Chitrakoot, she has received no such benefits. She survives on the goodwill of some people.
  • Rasuli Boda, 70, a Muslim resident of Parsaunda village in Banda district, owned three bighas of land. He had three grown-up sons, one of whom, Ramjani, lived with Rasuli, with his wife and children. The family suffered from acute food scarcity, according to accounts given by neighbours to ABSSS field workers. On October 23, 2006, Rasuli passed away. The district administration was informed about the family’s plight by ABSSS, but no relief measures were undertaken. After getting to eat no food for a fortnight, Ramjani’s wife passed away. Ramjani became `mad’ and started roaming around the village aimlessly. His children, two daughters and three sons, were left to fend for themselves. In 2007, the children were surviving on food given by neighbours.
  • Rani Kuswaha of Bharatkoop village, Chitrakoot, lost her husband in 2006 after a prolonged illness. The family owns only one bigha of land and a kuccha house. All savings were used up to pay for treatment of Rani’s husband. She has two minor girls and a son, who is disabled. She has a BPL ration card, but has never received rations. Like their mother, the children work as casual labourers.
  • In Panihai village of Mau block of Chitrakoot, TB claimed, in the space of a few years, three lives in one Kol family that is too poor to afford regular supply of nutritious food. Chottelal and his brother Harilal worked in stone quarries, like their father. First the father died of TB; then Harilal died. On November 21, 2007, Chottelal, who was only 35 years old, died of TB, leaving behind a wife and three sons. Two of the sons work in stone quarries, and may also contract the disease.

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