Success of Ahmedabad's heat action plan inspires 23 states to plan their own

Success of Ahmedabad's heat action plan inspires 23 states to plan their own

Success of Ahmedabad's heat action plan inspires 23 states to plan their own. (source : India Meteorological Department, 2019)

New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) Inspired by the success of Ahmedabad's heat action plan (HAP) that has brought down the number of heatwave deaths since 2013, the government is now working with 23 heatwave-prone states and over 130 cities and districts to develop and implement similar HAPs, a virtual event was informed on Wednesday. The 23 states include those from the peninsular India, central India, northwest India and parts of east India. Extreme heat is not merely an inconvenience, it can be dangerous, and even deadly, to public health. That's why coordinated actions that strengthen heat resilience across public and private spheres are crucial. As climate change-fuelled extreme heat continues to worsen in India -- currently, severe to very severe heatwave has continued since March 27 across central, west and northwest India -- the stakeholders across government, civil society, and academic institutions are prioritising health-protective adaptation responses. A panel of experts at a virtual event co-hosted by the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Climate Trends, an advocacy body, drew attention to the monumental health risks posed by climate change-driven extreme heat. The Panellists also offered actionable solutions for expanding heat adaptation across the country and in other heat wave-prone parts of the world. Vidarbha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh in central India and Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat in western India are the most heat-prone areas but every passing year, more and more areas, including hill states, are witnessing heatwave incidences. The Director General of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, described the lengthy preparation that the premier weather agency undergoes each year for the prediction of heatwaves at different times and also spoke about the current heatwave situation. "April is going to be more severe than March. The temperatures will be higher than normal," he said. Ahmedabad offers the perfect example of how early warning systems and coordinated responses to protect vulnerable populations can save lives. The city's pioneering heat action plan has helped it prevent more than 1,100 deaths each year since it was launched in 2013 after a massive heatwave in 2010. Manish Bapna, President and CEO of NRDC, said: "Heat kills - but it doesn't have to. Over the past decade, NRDC and its partners in India have been working with communities on the frontlines to promote more inclusive health preparedness and build climate resilience. Together, we've developed a model Heat Action Plan that hundreds of cities in India have now embraced and adapted." "The government of India is working with 23 heatwave prone states and over 130 cities and districts to develop and implement HAPs across the country. The NRDC and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar (IIPH-G), are working together to help develop, launch and implement these HAPs," he said. On the ground, it is the IMD and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) that work with these 23 states to develop the HAPS. The NDMA updated its heat guidelines in 2019 that provides a roadmap to the states. As climate change worsens extreme heat risks in India, Dileep Mavalankar of PHFI and IIPH-G drew attention to heat action planning and the need to implement "a strong public health policy response" to extreme heat events, underlining the "work to further strengthen these plans and adapt them to local needs" as a priority. Ahmedabad's HAP had an active participation of Mahila Housing Trust (MHT) that worked to protect heat-vulnerable people, including low-income communities and populations living in informal settlements. Bijalben Brahmbhatt, MHT Director, said, "MHT is working with these communities to install cool roofs that help households reduce health risks caused by extreme heat."

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