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PROJECT: Facilitating Karachi City District Government in Heat Wave Management

Project Reference: TAAS-0060

Heat waves have emerged as the latest climate induced threat to South Asia. Frequency and intensity of heat waves have increased significantly in recent past over this region. Urban centres in particular have borne the brunt with thousands of fatalities resulting from unprecedented heat waves. These heat waves are often triggered by meteorological events such as development of low pressure cells over oceans which shut down sea breeze. Although establishing causal relationships for heat wave events is often tricky, there is a general consensus on the idea that such events are increasing in frequency and intensity. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 11 of the 12 years between 1995 and 2006 have been the warmest years in the instrumental record of the Earth’s surface temperature.

IPCC has long warned that heat waves would become increasingly extreme in South Asia. This threat is magnified when we consider the widespread poverty and severe governance issues that plague the region. Rampant urbanisation, hazardous air quality and crippling energy crisis are just some of the factors that contribute to the mass fatalities that often accompany heat wave events. Congested and ill planned urban development provides ideal conditions for “Urban Heat Islands” where cities retain significantly higher temperatures than surrounding regions.

A recent example of these compounding regional factors was the heat wave episode in Karachi, Pakistan during the summer of 2015. Two thousand people perished from dehydration and heat strokes as sweltering conditions engulfed the city for nearly a month. Authorities have recognized that the death toll from the heat wave may have increased due to prolonged power outages in many areas of Karachi. Just one month before in May, similar weather conditions developed over large swathes of India which resulted in nearly three thousand deaths across the country.

Recognising the importance of addressing heat wave impacts, CDKN supported a project to facilitate Karachi city district government in heat wave management. The activities were designed to initiate a process at the localised level which can build towards the development of heat wave management plan for Karachi. The project activities included consultative and public engagement workshops with support from local partners. The workshops were aimed at sensitising and motivating the participants on heat wave management planning and processes. The workshops were supplemented through an assessment exercise to establish the capacity, mandate and willingness of local institutes/organizations to contribute in development and implementation of a heat wave management plan for the city. A heat wave infographic booklet was also developed to support effort of the city government for heat wave management.

The project was successful in achieving the following:

  1. Enhanced understanding within Karachi city government for the need of a ‘systems’ approach for the design and delivery of heat health management plan.
  2. Strong buy in from stakeholders to support development of a heat wave management plan for Karachi city.
  3. Improved understanding of the institutional challenges and knowledge gaps for effective heat wave management in the city.

CDKN Funding: £120,000


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