Monday, September 26, 2022

Mothers at the peak of climate change in this hottest city on earth


Heavy pregnant Sonari toils hard in fields filled with bright yellow melons in Jacobabad, which became the hottest city on earth last month.

Her 17-year-old neighbour, Vaderi, who gave birth a few weeks ago, is working in temperatures in excess of 50 degrees Celsius, with her newborn lying on a blanket nearby so she can feed when she cries.

Woman standing in a melon field during the day.
The heavily pregnant Sonari collects oysters during a heat wave.,Reuters: Akhtar Soomro,

These women in southern Pakistan and millions of others like them around the world are at the cusp of climate change.

Pregnant women with prolonged heat exposure have a higher risk of complications, found an analysis of 70 studies conducted since the mid-1990s.

According to the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education meta-analysis at Columbia University, for every 1C in temperature rise, there is an increase of about 5 percent in the number of stillbirths and premature deliveries, which is recognized by several research institutions globally. was and was published in. British Medical Journal in September 2020.

A woman gives wings to her son who is lying on the bed.
Jacobabad became the hottest city on Earth last month, with temperatures reaching 51 degrees Celsius.,Reuters: Akhtar Soomro,

Cecilia Sorensen, director of the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education at Columbia University, said the impact of global warming on women’s health was “excessively under-documented”, partly because extreme heat exacerbated other conditions.

“We’re not linking the health effects on women and many times it’s because we’re not collecting data on it,” she said. “And often women in poverty are not seeking medical care.”

Women and children washing their faces at the hand pump.
Women in Pakistan usually cook family meals on a hot chulha or an open fire.,Reuters: Akhtar Soomro,

According to interviews with more than a dozen female residents in the Jacobabad region, women are particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures in poor countries on the climate change front because many have jobs other than their pregnancies and soon after giving birth. there is no substitute. Half a dozen development and human rights experts.

Furthermore, women in socially conservative Pakistan – and in many other places – usually cook the family meal over a hot stove or open fire, often in cramped rooms with no ventilation or cooling.

“If you’re inside cooking next to a hot open fire, you have a load of that heat in addition to the ambient heat, which makes things more dangerous,” Sorensen said.

extreme humid summer events

South Asia has experienced unseasonably hot temperatures in recent months.

The extreme heat that scorched Pakistan and India in April was 30 times more likely due to climate change, according to scientists at World Weather Attribution, an international research collaboration.

Global temperatures have risen by about 1.2C above pre-industrial levels.

As the temperature continues to rise, so will the extreme heat.

Jacobabad’s nearly 200,000 residents are well aware of their city’s reputation as one of the hottest cities in the world.

“If we go to hell, we’ll take a blanket,” is a common joke said in the area.

A man and his son fill water canisters with a hose from a private pump.
The extreme heat is only expected to increase.,Reuters: Akhtar Soomro ,

In some places there is more punishment.

Temperatures peaked at 51C on May 14, which local meteorological officials said was highly unusual for that time of year.

Tropical rain combined with warm winds from the Arabian Sea can increase the humidity towards the end of the year.

The more humid it is, the harder it is for people to cool down through sweat.

Such conditions are measured by “wet bulb temperature”, which is taken by a thermometer wrapped in a wet cloth. Wet bulb temperatures of 35C or more are considered the limit of human existence.

According to regional weather data, Jacobabad has crossed that limit at least twice since 2010. And, globally, such “extremely humid heat events” have more than doubled in frequency over the past four decades, according to a May 2020 study in the journal Science.

A man is washing his chicken to cool it.
The more humid it is, the harder it is for people to cool off.,Reuters: Akhtar Soomro,

Sonari, who is 20, and Waderi work in melon fields about 10 kilometers from the center of Jacobabad, along with about a dozen other women, many of whom are pregnant.

They begin work every day at 6 a.m. with a short afternoon break for household chores and cooking before returning to work by sunset.

They describe leg pain, fainting episodes, and discomfort during breastfeeding.

“It seems no one sees them, no one cares,” said aid worker Liza Khan more broadly of the plight of many women in Jacobabad and the wider Sindh region, which borders Pakistan and India. is surrounded.

Ms Khan’s phone rings incessantly as she visits one of three heat stroke response centers she helped set up in recent weeks as part of her work with the non-profit group Community Development Foundation Is.

With a degree in finance, Ms. Khan has lived in the cooler cities of Pakistan, but returned to her hometown because she wanted to be a voice for women in the conservative region.

“Nowadays I am working 24/7,” said the 22-year-old, adding that her organization was increasingly linking the effects of extreme heat with other social and health issues affecting women.

graphic hottest city

the threshold of suffering

The harsh conditions facing many women were brought into tragic focus on 14 May, with day temperatures reaching 51 degrees Celsius in Jacobabad, making it the hottest city in the world at the time.

Nazia, a young mother of five, was preparing lunch for her cousins. But with no air-conditioning or fan in the kitchen, she collapsed and was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead of a suspected heat stroke.

District health officials did not respond to requests for comment about Jacobabad’s record of heat-related deaths in recent years, or Nazia’s case in particular.

A relative said her body was taken the next day for burial in her native village and her baby, the youngest of a year old, who was still breastfed, regularly cries for his mother.

Woman washing clothes in the house.
There is acute shortage of water in the whole of Sindh.,Reuters: Akhtar Soomro,

Widespread poverty and frequent power cuts mean that many people cannot even use air-conditioning or even fans for occasional cooling.

Potential strategies suggested by experts include providing clean-energy stoves in place of open-fire cooking, providing women’s medical and social services during the morning or evening hours, when it is colder and away from solar radiation. This includes replacing tin roofs with cooler materials in white to reflect radiation. House.

Men sleeping on the terrace.
Many people cannot afford or use air conditioning or sometimes even a fan.,Reuters: Akhtar Soomro,

Climate change minister Sherry Rahman told Reuters that women could bear the brunt of rising temperatures as they continue to scorch the country, adding that future climate change policies need to address the specific needs of women.

What surprises some in Jacobabad is that Pakistan is responsible for only a fraction of the greenhouse gases released in the industrial era and is now warming the atmosphere.

City Deputy Commissioner Hafeez Syal said, “We are not contributing to the worsening, but as far as the suffering is concerned, we are on the front lines.”

no water, no power, we pray

In a residential area of ​​town, a donkey-drawn carriage with blue plastic jerry cans stops near the entrance to Warren-like streets leading to a cluster of homes.

The driver of the vehicle runs back and forth carrying a container of 20 liters of water from one of a few dozen private pumps around the city.

A woman helping the mother of an infant while she bathes her.
Local officials said the water shortage was partly due to power cuts.,Reuters: Akhtar Soomro,

Most of Jacobabad’s residents depend on such water distribution, which can cost between one-fifth and one-eighth of a household’s meager income. Still, this is often not enough, and some families are forced to ration.

For young mother Razia, the sound of her six-month-old Tamanna’s cries in the heat of the afternoon was enough to persuade her to pour some of her precious water over the baby. She then made Tamannaah sit in front of a fan, and the child looked calm as she played with her mother’s dupatta.

Local officials said the water shortage was partly due to power cuts, which meant the water could not be filtered and sent through pipes throughout the city.

There is a severe water shortage across Sindh, with the climate change minister, Ms. Rahman, flagging a reduction of up to 60 percent in the province’s major dams and canals.

The girl came downstairs with her luggage.
Aid worker Lisa Khan returned to her hometown to be the voice of the women of the area.,Reuters: Akhtar Soomro,

Rubina, Razia’s neighbour, fried onions and okra over an open fire, explaining that she usually felt dizzy in the heat and tried to soak herself in water every time she cooked to avoid fainting. Was.

However there was not always enough water to do this.

“Most of the time, it ends before it’s time to buy more and we must wait,” Rubina said as she watched her children and grandchildren distribute a cup of water.


Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.

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