What is a heat wave?
Heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the pre-monsoon (April to June) 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.

Heat wave develops gradually, adversely affects humans, animals, crops and even causes death. In fact, it has emerged as one of the major severe weather events around the globe in recent years. The years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been confirmed as the four warmest years on record. In 2019, unlike earlier years, even night temperatures refused to come down.

India too is experiencing increased instances of heat waves every year - 23 States were affected by heat waves in 2019, up from 19 in 2018. Many cities recorded all-time high temperatures, exceeding 45 degrees Celsius in some of the worst-affected States. We had to prepare for harsher heat waves in 2020.

Earlier, NDMA used to organise its national workshops on heat wave in collaboration with State Governments in February (2017 at Hyderabad, Telangana; 2018 at Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh; and 2019 at Nagpur, Maharashtra) as the heat wave onslaught in the country typically starts by the latter half of March. This time, the planning and preparedness had to start even earlier. Consequently, the fourth National Workshop on Heat Wave was organised on December 5-6, 2019, in collaboration with the Government of Karnataka.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri G. V. V. Sarma, Member Secretary, NDMA, stated that Climate Change has led to the rise of average summer temperature by 0.5 degrees Celsius in past five years. Since 2016, much has been done already with the active involvement of different state governments and civil society. Shri Sarma was referring to the release, updation and effective implementation of the National Guidelines on Heat Wave, preparation of Heat Action Plans by vulnerable States and cities, regular follow-up and monitoring by NDMA, extensive awareness generation campaigns and preparedness workshops in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The number of deaths due to heat wave related illnesses has reduced drastically 2016 onwards. However, there is no scope for complacency, he said.

Besides sensitising the States to the need of updating and implementing specific Heat Action Plans, this workshop also discussed the integration of various development plans into heat action plans, increasing forest coverage and green areas to reduce heat wave risk well as climate change impacts.

Some vulnerable States shared their experiences and best practices to help other stakeholders prepare and implement their Heat Action Plans. The success stories from these States emphasised the importance of advanced planning, better preparedness and timely intervention.

Over the two days, stakeholders discussed the road map for further reducing the adverse effects of heat wave in 2020. Let us hope that this timely intervention and effective communication campaigns will empower vulnerable communities to deal with the deadly heat waves.

Technical Sessions
i) Climate change and Planning 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) Inter agency coordination and effective governance

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