Friday, May 10, 2013

Ahmedabad scores a 'heat action' first

Sujit Chakraborty in Thomson Reuters Foundation news: As summer high temperatures rise as a result of climate shifts, the western Indian city of Ahmedabad has put together a pioneering “heat action plan” to protect residents. In 2010, a heat wave in the city in Gujarat state killed 300 people in a single day, with temperatures hitting a high of 48.6 degrees Celsius.  The new plan aims to help vulnerable people take steps to reduce their exposure to extreme heat, as well improve the readiness of municipal agencies and medical services during summers, so that loss of life is minimised.

According to Anjali Jaiswal, director of the India Initiative of the US-based National Resources Defence Council (NRDC), which helped to formulate the plan, Ahmedabad is the first city in South Asia to take such a step.

“There are a handful of developed countries that have such plans,” said Dr Dileep Mavalankar, head of the Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat. “Such plans are now in place in cities in Australia (and) the U.S. state of California, and the NHS (National Health Service) in Britain has put this in place as well.”

Ahmedabad’s plan aims to use pamphlets and other mass communication tools such as billboards to raise awareness of the dangers of extreme heat among children, people who work outdoors and other vulnerable population groups, especially people who live in the slums. Slumdwellers make up about a quarter of Ahmedabad’s seven million residents, according to Jaiswal...

Evening of a hot day in Ahmedabad, shot by Abhishek Joshi, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 

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