Heat casualties (Edit2)

Editorial June 26, 2024


Bodies have once again begun piling up in morgues across Karachi as the mercury remained above 40 degrees Celsius for the third consecutive day. On Monday, the humidity in the air was recorded at 50 per cent, pushing the heat index to 51 degrees Celsius. About 25 bodies of people believed to have died of heat exhaustion were found by Edhi and other rescue services over the past two days. The reports have brought back harrowing memories from 2015 when at least 1,500 people died of heatstroke, and thousands more got sick. Harsh weather conditions claimed another 65 lives in the city in 2018 too.

Despite the temperature consistently intensifying across the country over the past nine years, heat-related climate disasters are yet to be prioritised for funding by the federal and provincial governments. Heat wave management plans have been drawn up, but their implementation remains inconsistent and coordination among concerned agencies is sorely lacking. Public awareness campaigns have also been initiated, but have not always been able to reach those residing in low-income areas where accessing information is a challenge. People residing in these settlements make for the majority of those who suffer heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses due to the nature of their jobs, and the conditions they live in.

Ill-planned constructions and an absolute lack of focus on creating green spaces have only worsened people’s predicament. The authorities need to take stock of the rapid change in climate across the country and start planning ahead for events that they know can wreak havoc on people’s lives and their governance. The Sindh government especially needs to sit down with urban planners and make Karachi liveable for its almost 20 million residents. We cannot let any more agricultural land be sold off to builders to profit off of the deaths of the most vulnerable.


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