Urgency of Heatwave Risk Management


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All India Institute for Local Self Governance


Publication: Urgency of Heatwave Risk Management

Heatwave deaths are avoidable. And must be avoided. This is AIDMI’s conclusion from its over decade long work on planning and implementing heatwave mitigation measures in Ahmedabad city, India, and South Asia.” - Mihir R. Bhatt


INTRODUCTION by the author:

As climate change intensifies, the danger posed by heatwaves is increasing every year. In 2015, thousands were killed in India and Pakistan, and in 2022, the death toll reached tens of thousands in Europe. Despite this, heatwaves often receive limited attention from humanitarians, emergency response agencies, and policymakers at large. It’s clear that heatwaves are not only here to stay but will accelerate in their frequency, severity, loss, and damage at all levels. Our latest issue—a collection of 15 articles—is an attempt to address the critical issue of heatwaves, highlighting their increasing danger as climate change intensifies.



1. Preface by Paul Knox Clarke, Principal, ADAPT Initiative, UK]

- Heatwaves can be extremely dangerous. Yet, they still tend to receive insufficient attention from humanitarians and emergency response agencies, or policymakers more generally.

- The city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India, implemented the world’s first Heat Action Plan.

- One core message from all the articles is the importance of planning to respond to heat events. 

- The key elements of an effective planning process are that it should be collaborative, multi-sectoral, and inclusive of various societal aspects. 

- It should be noted that extreme heat is not a natural disaster but a consequence of human activities, and should be acknowledged as a political challenge rather than just a technical problem. 


2. Heatwaves in South Asia: Dialogue Around Policy Options by Mihir R. Bhatt and Vishal Pathak, AIDMI, India

- Vulnerable populations are the ones suffering the most from deadly heatwaves. 

- Efforts should be made to incorporate women leaders in heat risk mitigation.

- Collaboration among diverse stakeholders in the public and private domain is necessary for mitigating the negative impacts of extreme heat in both urban and rural areas.


3. Lessons for Higher Educational Institutions for Heatwave Risk Preparedness by Sk. Tawfique M. Haque, Professor and Director, South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance & Chair, Department of Political Science & Sociology, North South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

- Climate change intensifies heatwaves, which pose a significant risk to public health. Higher Educational Institutions can play a role in getting better prepared for heatwave risks. The inclusion of heatwave risk preparedness training in university curricula, providing first aid training to student volunteers, and ensuring natural ventilation in the campus, were some of the measures mentioned.


4. Heatwaves in South Asia: Observing and discussing the dynamics of heatwaves is crucial for improved heatwave governance and humanitarian responses by Mihir R. Bhatt and Vishal Pathak (AIDMI), Prof. Prabodh Chakrabarti, Keya Saha Chaudhary (ICVA), Dorothea Hilhorst (ISS), Khayal Trivedi (HOISA)

- The complexity of governance, resulting from factors such as the high-density population and the diversity of geographical, social, environmental, and socio-economic features in South Asia makes it one of the most vulnerable regions to heatwaves. 

- The Humanitarian Observatory Initiative of South Asia (HOISA) was launched to investigate and monitor the humanitarian governance process, focusing on heatwave response.

- An urgent need was discussed among HOISA to implement the heatwave action plans at all levels and reform the existing infrastructure.

- HOISA also called for a mobilization of funding for adaptive measures and the creation of a joint plan of action between South Asian countries. Interdisciplinary knowledge and data transfer should also be encouraged. 


5. Observing Heatwaves in Light of Adaptation and Mitigation by Dr Ajit Tyagi, South Asia Meteorological Association, New Delhi; Dr. Niladri Gupta, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center; Akash Goenka, Alliance for an Energy-Efficient Economy; and Mihir R. Bhatt, AIDMI

- HOISA’s second panel discussion covered some under-observed aspects of adaptation and mitigation in addressing heatwaves in South Asia. 

- Meteorological aspects of heatwaves were extensively explored, and various mechanisms were suggested and discussed to aptly address heatwaves at various levels such as global, regional, local, etc. 

- Some areas impacted by heatwaves were also mentioned, including agriculture and forestry.


6. Mitigation Research in the Nexus of Heatwave Risks by Nadim Reza Khandaker and Arup Ratan Das, North South University, Bangladesh

- A research program was conducted to make iron roofs more appropriate for space cooling. This would not only benefit the poultry industry which is hugely affected by the heatwaves but can also apply to human habitats


7. Financing Heatwave Preparedness in India Needs Both Disaster and Social Policy Lenses by Soutrik Goswami and Subrata Rath, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), New Delhi, India

- Comprehensive national and state-level budgetary planning is important for financing heatwave mitigation and adaptive schemes. Community participation and social audits should also be facilitated to monitor and ensure accountability of the action plans. 


8. Heatwave, Health, and Livelihoods: Voices from the Ground by Dr. Sahil Hebbar, SEWA, India

- Heatwaves significantly impact the informal sector, and the illnesses caused by heatwaves inflict additional burden on the low-income populations. 

- The Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) piloted initiatives to mitigate climate change impacts on the poor, including the Green Villages and Ward, Global Climate Resilience Fund, and Extreme Heat Income Microinsurance. 


9. Women, Informality and Heatwaves: Lessons from Gujarat by Kshitij Gupta, AIDMI, India

- All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI) conducted a study in rural and urban Gujarat to better comprehend how heatwaves affect women micro-entrepreneurs in the informal sector and suggested some measures to mitigate their impacts. 


10. Extreme Heat, Gender, and Access to Preparedness Measures: An Analysis of the Heatwave Early Warning System in Ahmedabad, India by Ainsley Trahan, PhD Student, University of Cambridge (Cambridge Disaster Research Network), UK

- Two major barriers were identified for female outdoor labourers in accessing the Early Warning System (EWS) of heatwaves, which were literacy and phone ownership. 

- When discussing the coping strategies to deal with heatwaves, the interviewees also expressed concerns regarding the trade-off relationship between income and health in cases they don’t work during the hottest times. 


11.Heatwave, Climate Change, and Livelihoods: Voices from the Women by Sydney Anthony and Emma Jewkes, Students, St. Francis Xavier University (StFX), Canada

- Extreme heat, unseasonal rains, and increasing frequency of cyclones were reported as the most threatening aspects of climate change for vulnerable populations. Appropriate measures should be taken to help marginalized women, impoverished communities, and workers in the informal sector better cope with climate change. 


12. Heatwave Problem in Vietnam by Nguyễn Lê Uyên Nhi, Vietnam

- Humidity aggravates the risks posed by heatwaves in Vietnam.

- Heatwaves deter meeting demands for electricity. 

- Vietnam is taking measures such as turning off streetlights and switching operations to off-peak hours to resolve the electricity shortage.


13. Heatwave Risk Management: The Role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) by Loreine B. dela Cruz, Executive Director, Center for Disaster Preparedness, Philippines

- Heatwaves pose health threats. 

- Some measures to tackle heatwave risks include identifying vulnerable populations and implementing heat preparedness plans, planting trees, utilizing cool and green infrastructure, and increasing energy efficiency.

- Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) can significantly contribute in many ways such as influencing policymaking and implementation, capacity building of especially marginalized communities, and being in charge of monitoring and evaluation.

14. RCDC’s Work in the Bay of Bengal Region: A Climate Change Hotspot by Jagannath Chatterjee, Documentation Manager, Regional Centre for Development Cooperation (RCDC), Odisha, India

- The Regional Centre for Development Cooperation (RCDC), originally established to address forestry, natural resource management and governance, and sustainable livelihoods, took the initiative to resolve problems caused by natural disasters in the Bengal region.

- Project Paribartan implemented a climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction program in 84 villages of the coastal districts. Project Prayas aimed to foster resilient livelihoods, addressing waterlogging. Project Pragati supported the naturally displaced populations by offering them alternative livelihood options. 


15. Resources for Heatwave Action in South Asia by AIDMI Team

- Some resource materials regarding heatwave actions are provided. 

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