Heat Warning System For India’s Harsh Summer

Apr 15th, 2013 | By | Category: Adaptation, Development and Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Green House Gas Emissions, Health and Climate Change, India, International Agencies, Lessons, Opinion, Research, Solar Energy, Vulnerability, Weather
NRDC Team India

Some key people behind the action plan: (clockwise) Kim Knowlton, Dileep Mavalankar, Gulrez Azhar and Anjali Jaiswal (inset).

NRDC: I found it quite interesting that an Indian city should have a proper ‘action plan’ to tackle the effects of changing climate patterns that have resulted in some severe summer temperatures in the last decade. Living in India, the action plans by city or state administrations we have mostly seen are: close schools and colleges,  close offices and at best issue a “do not venture out between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m” notice. There have been sporadic public interest advertisements in newspapers on how to beat the heat.

So, this week when the U.S. based environmental action group NRDC said it would be releasing South Asia’s first ‘heat action plan’ for the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India, it struck as a novel, much-needed concept.

The plan has been finalised in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH), Gandhinagar; Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Georgia, USA; and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC). NRDC said in a release that with this plan to protect residents from extreme heat events, Ahmedabad will be able to ‘comprehensively address the threat of extreme heat caused by climate change.’ (NRDC’s Anjali Jaiswal and Kim Knowlton have elaborated on the action plan in their blogs earlier. Dileep Mavalankar and Gulrez Shah Azhar from IIPH, Gandhinagar were partners in the project. )

The action plan includes initiatives to educate communities on the health risks of extreme heat, implement an early warning system, and train medical officials to treat heat-related illnesses. The plan is being officially released on Arpil 16, 2013.  It includes plans on how to equip government agencies, healthcare providers and other stakeholders to respond to extreme heat events as India’s heat season progresses.

NRDC says the action plan is based on scientific studies conducted in the city over two years. The plan also suggests policy measures to address projected future health risks related to extreme heat. A key area of the plan that would be useful for the local administration are suggestions on creating emergency response and management; and involving health agencies as well as meteorological services in the bigger scheme of things.

The idea is to have an innovative set of strategies, including an early heat-health warning system, to protect the city’s seven million residents (especially the vulnerable ones) from extreme heat.

If the Ahmedabad project turns out to be successful, Gujarat apparently plans to implement it across the state.

Sounds like a good plan!

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