As climate change intensifies, heat waves will become more frequent, increasing risks to everyone, but especially vulnerable populations. Acute heat stress is already recognized as a growing cause of morbidity and mortality, and is slowly garnering attention on national and global health and development agendas.
In a concerted effort to deal with this challenge, ICLEI South Asia, under the Climate Development Knowledge Network-Knowledge Accelerator programme, and the Red Cross Climate Centre will develop heat action plans for a city each in Bangladesh and Nepal. The partnership aims to develop a framework for the implementation, coordination and evaluation of extreme heat response activities in the targeted cities to reduce the negative health impacts of exposure to extreme heat, and to translate warnings into anticipatory actions.
It is envisaged that the heat action plans will be used as a framework to institutionalise and operationalise heat risk management in cities. It will include raising awareness of the dangers of extreme heat, improving health surveillance systems, conducting vulnerability assessments to inform heat interventions, and developing longer-term strategies for reducing heat risk. Building public awareness and community outreach to communicate the risks of heat waves and to implement practices to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses will also constitute an integral part of the project.
As planning for heat waves is a comprehensive, year-round approach to risk management, the project will first focus on strengthening coordination among health agencies, social services, emergency management authorities and meteorological services. The partnership will seek to build the capacity of targeted local governments and bring key actors and stakeholders like the disaster management officer, chief medical or health officer, local researchers/ academics, and officials from the meteorological department together for knowledge sharing and collaborative actions. The partnership will also enhance the city authorities’ and stakeholders’ understanding of heat risks and engage them in the heat action development process.