Preparing for Heat Wave 2019


Heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the pre-monsoon summer season. The extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in regions reeling under heat wave conditions as they may cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, physiological stress and sometimes even death.

2,040 persons – that’s the number of lives claimed by the heat wave in India in 2015. The number was higher than deaths caused by any other disaster. Cut to 2018 heat wave – the number stands at just 25. That is a decline of more than 98 per cent in three years’ time. It definitely is a success story.

How did it happen? Noticing this severity of killer heat waves, the National Disaster Management Authority formulated and circulated to the States the ‘Guidelines for Preparation of Action Plan – Prevention and Management of Heat-Wave’ in 2016. The Guidelines provided a framework for implementation, coordination and evaluation of activities undertaken by local authorities to reduce the adverse effects of extreme heat-wave. Effective implementation of the Guidelines by some of the worst affected States brought down the number of heatwave-related deaths to 1,111 in 2016.

It told us we could even better this with a little advanced planning with all key stakeholders on board. As the heat wave onslaught in various parts of the country typically starts by the latter half of March, NDMA organised a national workshop on heat wave risk reduction at Hyderabad in Telangana in February. This timely workshop helped heat-prone States in drawing up their plans for the year as heat wave and we could bring down the number of deaths to 384.

In 2018, NDMA organised the second annual heat preparedness workshop in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.

To further improve our heat wave preparedness towards achieving the ‘zero mortality’ target in 2019, NDMA organised a two-day national workshop on heat wave risk reduction on 27-28February at Nagpur in collaboration with the Maharashtra Government.

Besides sensitising the States to the need of updating and implementing specific Heat Action Plans, this workshop also discussed new focus areas such as Climate Change Adaptation (CCA).

Climate change is driving temperatures higher as well as increasing the frequency and severity of heat waves. A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that in the Indian subcontinent, global warming impacts have come sooner and hit harder than predicted. Urging all stakeholders to integrate Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) into their heat risk reduction planning, Lt. Gen. N. C. Marwah, Member, NDMA, said, “The manifestation of climate change is clearly evident in the last few years. There is a need to lay greater emphasis on mid-term and long-term measures that need to be adopted for Climate Change Adaptation.”

Some of the most vulnerable States, which have done a commendable job in mitigating the impact of heat waves, also shared their experiences and best practices to help other stakeholders draw lessons. “Learning from each other is the best way to deal with any disaster,” said Dr. D. N. Sharma, Member, NDMA, who chaired the session on experience sharing and lessons learnt.

Over the two days, stakeholders discussed the road map for further reducing the adverse effects of heat wave in 2019 with advance planning and preparedness. The India Meteorological Department has indicated the probability of above-normal summer temperatures this year. As the temperatures will tend to rise, leading to stronger and longer heat waves, it will pay to be prepared.

Technical Sessions

i) Climate change and Heat wave risk reduction
ii) Early warning, forecasting and Preparedness for heat wave
iii) Experience Sharing & lessons learnt for heat wave mitigation measures
iv) Capacity building &Enhancing effective response to Heat wave
v) Interagency coordination and effective governance

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