India had the most undernourished and anaemic women even before the pandemic: 125 million women. Now, women in India’s poorest states have less food, heightening the risks of anemia: impaired children, a lowered work ability and health crises they cannot afford. We report from marginalised communities in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Mandala (Madhya Pradesh) / Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) / Gaya (Bihar): In July 2021, two weeks after she gave birth for the third time, Kamalwati Tumrachi sat on a charpoy, breastfeeding her infant, a cardigan and a scarf over her head, as north India sweltered.
Her village, Machhla, nestled between mountains in Mandala district 400 km southeast of MP capital Bhopal, gets chilly during the monsoons, so Kamalwati, 34, covered herself in a crimson blanket, holding her son close underneath it. Her charpoy, placed behind the door of her two-room, ensured privacy.