Extreme heat affects millions in India and Pakistan |
Extreme The heat affects hundreds of millions of people in one of the most densely populated parts of the world, threatening to wreak havoc on entire ecosystems.
Working closely with health and disaster management agencies, the national meteorological and hydrological departments of both countries are planning to roll out heat-health action plans that have helped save lives over the past few years, the UN meteorological agency said in a report. statement.
Extreme heat has multiple and cascading impacts not only on human health, but also on ecosystems, agriculture, water and energy supplies and key economic sectors.
WMO confirmed its obligation to “ensure that multi-hazard early warning services reach the most vulnerable.”
Heat Health Action Plans
Both India and Pakistan successfully early warning systems for heat and health and ready-made action plans, including those specifically designed for urban areas.
They reduce heat-related mortality and reduce the social impacts of extreme heat, including reduced productivity.
Important lessons have been learned from the past and are now being shared with all partners of the WMO Co-sponsored Global Health Information Network due to the heat wave to boost capacity in the hard-hit region, WMO said.
Intense heat to continue
The Indian Meteorological Department reported that maximum temperatures reached 43-46°C over wide areas on 28 April and that this heatwave will continue until 2 May.
Similar temperatures have also been seen in Pakistan, where daytime temperatures are likely to be 5 to 8 degrees Celsius above normal in large parts of the country, the Pakistan Meteorological Department said.
They also warned that in the mountainous regions of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkwa, unusual heat levels would accelerate. snow and ice meltwith the potential to trigger glacial lake floods or flash floods in vulnerable areas.
Air quality has also deteriorated, and large areas of land are at risk of fire.
In line with “changing climate”
According to the WMO, “it is premature to attribute extreme heat in India and Pakistan solely due to climate changeHowever, the agency continues, “this is in line with what we expect in a changing climate.”
In addition, heat waves are more frequent, more intense and earlier than in the past.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its recent Sixth Assessment Report also stated that heatwaves and wet heat stress will be more intense and frequent in South Asia this century.
The current heat wave was caused by a high pressure system and follows an extended period of above-average temperatures.
India recorded the warmest March on record with an average high of 33.1°C, 1.86°C above the long-term average.
Pakistan also recorded its warmest March in at least 60 years, with a number of stations breaking March records.
During the pre-monsoon period, both India and Pakistan regularly experience excessively high temperatures, especially in May.
India has established a national framework for heat action plans through the National Disaster Management Authority, which coordinates a network of government disaster response agencies and city governments to prepare for a surge in temperatures and ensure everyone is aware of wave protocols. heat.
The city of Ahmedabad in India was the first city in South Asia to develop and implement citywide heat adaptation for health in 2013 after a devastating heatwave in 2010. This successful approach has since been extended to 23 heatwave-affected states and is serving to protect more than 130 cities and districts.
Pakistan has also made progress in protecting public health from the heat. In the summer of 2015, a heatwave engulfed much of central and northwestern India and eastern Pakistan and directly or indirectly caused several thousand deaths.
This event served as a wake-up call and led to the development and implementation of the Heat Action Plan for Karachi and other parts of Pakistan.
The model plans ensure that the targeted intervention is appropriate and intended for the city’s heat-vulnerable population.
It first identifies the city’s hotspots, locates vulnerable populations in those hotspots, and assesses the nature and status of their vulnerability to extreme heat.