Without action plans, India’s poorest will continue to bear brunt of heatwaves: study

Source: The post is based on the article Without action plans, India’s poorest will continue to bear the brunt of heatwaves: studypublished in The Hindu on 28th March 2023.

What is the News?

Centre for Policy Research(CPR) has released a report titled ‘How is India Adapting to Heatwaves?’.

What is the purpose of the report?

Extreme heat poses an unprecedented challenge to health and productivity in India. Heatwaves (prolonged periods of extreme heat) have increased in frequency in recent decades due to climate change.

Landmark heatwaves (1998, 2002, 2010, 2015, 2022) have each led to large death tolls (according to government estimates) and extensive economic damage by reducing labour productivity and affecting water availability, agriculture, and energy systems. 

Governments across India at the state, district, and municipal levels have responded to this by creating heat action plans (HAPs).

Note: Heat Action Plans (HAPs) are guidance documents prepared by state, district, and city governments to help prepare for, respond to, and recover and learn from heat waves. 

The report aims to analyze these 37 Heat Action Plans (HAPs) at the city (9), district (13) and state (15) levels across 18 states.

Read more: Do not let increasing heatwaves sap worker productivity in India

What are the key findings of the report on HAPs?

HAPs not built for local context and have an oversimplified view: Only 10 out of the 37 HAPs reviewed seem to establish locally-defined temperature thresholds though it is unclear whether they take local risk multipliers (such as humidity, hot nights, duration of continuous heat among others) into account to declare a heat wave.

HAPs are poor at identifying and targeting vulnerable groups: More than half of the plans fail to address the risks faced by sections of people who are more vulnerable to heat stress due to their gender, poverty and other causes.

Underfunding of HAPs: 70% of the HAPs lack the financial mechanisms to implement the proposed projects.

Weak legal foundations: Most of the HAPs had no legal sources of their authority, indicating a lack of bureaucratic incentive to comply with the instructions in the action plans.

HAPs are insufficiently transparent:  There is no national repository of HAPs and very few HAPs are listed online. Further, it is unclear whether these HAPs are being updated periodically and whether this is based on evaluation data.

Read more: Winter Heatwaves – Explained, pointwise

What are the recommendations given by the report?

HAPs should identify sources of financing, either from new funds or by combining actions with existing national and State policies. Further, HAPs should also set up rigorous independent evaluations as a basis for constant improvement.

The National Disaster Management Authority should create a repository of HAPs that is publicly accessible.

HAPs must set up rigorous independent evaluations as a basis for constant improvement.

Implementation-oriented HAPs so that India’s poorest will no longer continue to suffer from extreme heat, paying with both their health and incomes.

Print Friendly and PDF