Climate change and your role
You know people are quite adamant in making fellow citizens aware of the topic – at the least to give them a chance to fight and survive – when you are in attendance for an event by Never Forget Pakistan in collaboration with Elaj Trust and AIESEC in IBA. The second edition of university talks, Aao Baat Karain, and the first in Karachi as well as regarding climate change went down quite well. The topic is essential to Karachiites to both understand and learn as Mansh Pasha, speaker for the day, was quick to point out in the very beginning.
According to the statistics of Em-DAT Database and City District Government Karachi as printed in Karachi 2015 Heat Wave – A Visual Guide by Climate & Development Knowledge Network, Pakistan’s spell of heatwave (40 C – 49 C) in 2015, which claimed 1,242 lives is eight of the 10 most deadliest heatwaves in world history; the first being in Europe (2003; 30 C – 45 C; 71,310 deaths) and the last being witnessed in Greece, Turkey (1987; 30 C – 40 C; 1,030 deaths).
In this instant, it seems a good idea to begin the event by introducing participants to the innovative and sustainable measures being taken in Tharparkar that help individuals living there to battle challenges not only by the apparent harsh climate, but also a prominent lack of resources. Mr. Ali Akbar Rahimoo (Executive Director, Applied education Water and Renewable Energy or AWARE) talked how in the face of the increasing frequency of droughts, these solutions include building windmills and installing solar panels.
On an average, 76.3 people live per square kilometres of Thar with their livestock experience a drought every third year and a famine every decade. AWARE addresses this by ensuring they are able to access adequate water easily and that children who would otherwise be engaged with this work will have time enough to go to schools.
Elaborating on his needs of changing mindsets instead of solely providing the relief measures to the ones in need, the panellists Dr. Seemi Jamali (Head Emergency Services, JPMC); Mr. Abid Naveed (Deputy General Manager Emergency Medical Services, Aman Foundation); Mr. Atta-ur-Rehman (Team Leader of low carbon development, Lead Pakistan); and Mr. Shahzeb Sheikh (Assistant Commissioner Karachi) – had an honest discussion moderated by Dr. Talha Rehman (Elaj Trust).
While representatives of NGOs claimed most of the deaths last year were preventable and driving a change in 2016 by holding these workshops, Mr. Shahzeb Sheikh and Dr. Seemi Jamali were of a contradictory stance, saying creating panic and scaring people is just not on. Even though Pakistan is moving towards a change with a climate change policy, the truth unfortunately is it is still not much prepared to tackle it. Opinions aside, however, it was decided that it is not to blame the government for everything when there are certain steps that one can take to prevent and/or counter a heatstroke.
To quote Ms. Seemi here, “beech dopher mein kaam na karein, strenuous exercise na karein, consumption of tea na karein, pani ka intake ziada se ziada rakhein, apne sath pani ki bottle le k niklay ta kay dehydration na ho, kapray halkay rang and material k pehnay, tap/cold water se naha lein, bachon aur buzurgon ko expose na karein aur agar hoon to pani pilatay rahein.” “The Sindh government is very adamant to make sure so many deaths do not take place again,” she added. Can hand towels and 10,000 mineral water bottles in JPMC be sufficient when the second spell hits Karachi? Can 65 well-equipped ambulances of Aman Foundation do the job of around 300 as per international standards? Can a suggestions/complaints service (1299) functional at Karachi Commissioner Office overcome the apparent lack of communication between organisations? We cannot wait and see, as stressed by stroke management training session at the end of the programme by Dr. Talha Rehman.