India Gets its First Heat Wave Vulnerability Mapping

Draught in India

Heat Wave Vulnerability Index indicates how susceptible a particular part of the country is in case of a heat wave.
A team of researchers from various prestigious institutes across the country came together to map India’s first Heat Wave Vulnerability Index (HVI), locating the places that are most likely to suffer from the condition of very high temperatures.

A Heat wave is experienced when:

1. The maximum temperature rises above 40 degree Celsius for 2 consecutive days and is at least 4.5 degree celsius above normal, or when the maximum temperature exceeds 45 degree Celsius for 2 consecutive days.

2. In hilly areas, the temperature rise should be at least 30 degrees and a departure of 4.5 from the normal temperature for two consecutive days, is technically termed as a heat wave.

Here are some key points from the research:

1.The Heat Wave Vulnerability Index divided 10 Indian districts in a Very High Category: – 4 from Madhya Pradesh, 2 in Chhattisgarh, and one each from Jharkhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Odisha.

2. Another 97 of districts are in the High Category, while a bulk of them belongs to High Normal to the Low Normal category. A total of 75 districts are in Low category, while 10 made it to the very low category. Districts of Kerala, Goa and Lakshadweep belong to the category of least risk.

3. The research was proposed in an article published on March 30 in the “International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health”, an open access platform for peer-reviewed research. The districts were selected as units for analysis, the researchers evaluated demographic, socioeconomic, and environmental vulnerability.

4. Household amenities were measured on the basis of availability of:

  • drinking water on the premise,
  • a good house,
  • a mobile phone,
  • radio and TV.

5. Population health was evaluated on the basis of immunisation of children and the presence of a health facility within 3 kilometers.

It was observed that districts with higher heat vulnerability are located in the central part of the country. On further examination, it was found that these areas are less urbanised, have low literacy rate and  have less access to water and sanitation and health amenities.

Azhar (the chief author of the study) told  Indian Express  that “Rural places show more vulnerability than urban areas due to less electricity, less water supply and other parameters that were assessed to arrive at the HVI. However, heat action plans are focused for urban centers, and hence the study urges more interventions.”

6. India saw 1,100 heat-related deaths in 2016, most cities don’t report the deaths and very few cities have a heat-related action plan.

“Creating and mapping a heat vulnerability index is a useful step in protecting the public from the health burden of heat,” says the study. It can help the experts designing policies and can be used by disaster mitigation experts.

Pic Credit: indian express

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