Pakistan braces for severe heatwaves; NDMA issues action plan

As global temperatures continue to climb, Pakistan is preparing for an intense heatwave season set to affect southern and central regions. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has released an extensive Heatwave Action Plan for 2024, aiming to mitigate the severe impacts of these extreme weather conditions.

High risk regions

The NDMA has identified the districts of Umarkot, Tharparkar, Tando Allahyar, Matiari, and Sanghar in Sindh, as well as Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab, as particularly vulnerable. These areas face increased risks due to a combination of climatic factors, rapid urbanisation, deforestation, and air pollution.

Threats and risks

  1. Medical Emergencies: The NDMA warns that heatwaves significantly heighten the risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke and dehydration. Vulnerable populations, including the elderly, children, and individuals with preexisting health conditions, are at greater risk. The anticipated surge in heat-related health issues could overwhelm healthcare facilities in the affected regions​.
  2. High Energy Demand: Rising temperatures will lead to increased demand for electricity to power air conditioning and cooling systems. This surge can put a significant strain on the energy infrastructure, potentially causing power outages and exacerbating the heat-related challenges for residents​.
  3. Secondary Hazards: Prolonged heatwaves can lead to secondary hazards such as droughts, wildfires, and deteriorated air quality. These conditions pose long-term environmental threats, affecting agriculture, water supply, and overall ecosystem health​.

Mitigation and adaptation strategies

The NDMA’s Heatwave Action Plan outlines key strategies to address these impacts:

The NDMA’s proactive measures and ongoing efforts are critical in protecting vulnerable populations from the adverse impacts of heatwaves. As Pakistan confronts the challenges posed by climate change, the effective implementation of the Heatwave Action Plan 2024 will be essential in reducing risks and enhancing the country’s resilience to extreme heat events.

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