Climate Change

A Story of Suffering, Survival, and Urgent Action Needed

Main image to the post A Story of Suffering, Survival, and Urgent Action Needed

A Story of Suffering and Survival

Santosh Sikdar, a 52-year-old welder in Kolkata, India, faces a brutal reality. The scorching summer heat is "unbearable," but missing work is not an option. "This is a killing summer," he says, "a blast-furnace situation."

Staying home is a luxury Sikdar cannot afford. A day without work means an empty stomach for his family. "It is a matter of survival for us," he says.

Across South and Southeast Asia, the heatwave's grip is relentless. New Delhi recorded one of India's highest-ever temperatures, 49.9°C, while parts of Pakistan reached 53°C.

Farmers like Mehr Ghazanfar Abbas in Pakistan are suffering. He collapsed under the blazing sun while working in his field. The impact on vulnerable populations is severe, with increased heatstroke, dehydration, and food insecurity.

India has experienced record heat in recent months, with temperatures exceeding 45°C for extended periods. "I have never experienced such an excruciatingly painful heatwave," says Prasun Dutta, a retired electrical engineer in Delhi.

The heatwave has also depleted groundwater resources, leading to water shortages and conservation measures. "Heat waves and their impacts on water resources will increase manifold in the near future," warns Sanjay Vashist, director of Climate Action Network South Asia.

The situation is dire, with over 40,000 suspected heatstroke cases and at least 110 confirmed deaths reported in India between March and June. The extreme heat is not only sapping and draining, but also financially ruining many, like farm laborer Shyamapada Pal in West Bengal.

The heatwave highlights the vulnerability of millions working in the informal sector, with little job protection or rights. They are left extremely vulnerable during times of severe weather.

As the heatwave continues, the need for immediate action is crucial. Addressing the water crisis, providing support to vulnerable populations, and implementing long-term climate change mitigation strategies are essential to alleviate the suffering and ensure a more resilient future.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09