J40.3 Heat Adaptation among India's Vulnerable Populations

Wednesday, 15 January 2020: 9:00 AM
153B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Gulrez Shah Azhar, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA; and G. Ryan

Handout (2.0 MB)

Introduction: Researchers agree that increasing temperatures and heatwaves linked to climate change pose a grave threat to developing countries like India. While several western studies discuss heat adaptation, given the difference in vulnerability profile and possible interventions, not much is known about locally workable heat adaptation measures in the developing world.

Aims: To build a general framework describing where and how deaths occur. To identify a range of feasible interventions that could help reduce heat-related deaths in India.

Methods: We develop a natural history of disease framework and conducted semi-structured interviews with 16 experts in India and abroad. These included academics, climate-health researchers, medical doctors, community activists, urban planners, and policy advisors with expertise in heatwaves and India. Coding and analysis of this qualitative data was performed on Dedoose online platform.

Results: Starting with the scope and scale of heat exposure, this paper explores the vulnerability to heat exposure among laborers, rural and urban poor, women and children and other groups. It then investigates the consequences of heat exposure in terms of discomfort, medical effects and secondary and tertiary effects. In the next section we examine heat prevention through individual / household, community and federal level adaptation measures. Lastly, we study responses to heat exposure through the same measures.

Discussion and Conclusion: The range of policy options across household, community and national levels are summarized here. Policymakers and researchers should act and further build upon these findings to save lives.

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