2016-03-20 Environmental Science 3

Stakeholder Consultation Workshop on Heat Stress in Faisalabad, Pakistan

Heat wave-related casualties are likely to be underreported due to a lack of a clear case definition and the multi-factorial nature of heat-related mortality. Mortality figures only include deaths caused directly by heat strokes and ignore that already diseased people suffering from e.g. cardio-respiratory conditions that are more susceptible to heat stress. Furthermore, these official data only consider deaths in which heatstroke is established to be the cause in official records, usually through a post-mortem. Many death cases do not go through a post-mortem in Pakistan. This accounts especially for the poor who are less likely to die in hospitals. There is very limited research on temperature–mortality functions for populations in south Asia.

The reason behind is that there is insufficient knowledge for the role of potential risk factors and adaptation measure such as housing building material type on heat-related mortality. The health benefits from interventions in housing and the outdoor built environment, such as increasing green spaces and using albedo (e.g. painting roofs white) are a research area offering significant potential for improving people’s health, next to early warning systems. Researchers of the Department of Environmental Sciences & Engineering at GCU Faisalabad are exploiting threshold values of Heat Index in the slums of Faisalabad in order to be able to recommend to the city and district government for mitigation strategies including planting of good number of trees in vulnerable areas and recommending to the public the specific building materials to be used in their house construction.

In order to collect basic information, automatic data loggers have been installed in 60 households of typical slums of Faisalabad in addition to congested environments of Faisalabad clock-tower to generate time-series data on numerous environmental components including temperature and humidity. Data regarding attributes of the residents and building material as well as architecture of houses are also collected under HI-AWARE project. In continuation to the collaborative activities of GCU Faisalabad, PARC and Wageningen University a “Stakeholders Consultation Workshop on Heat Stress in Faisalabad” was held on March 03, 2016 at GCU Faisalabad.

The workshop was attended by the researchers from GCUF, UAF, PARC, ALTERA-Wageningen University, LEAD-Pakistan, representatives from Rescue 1122 – Faisalabad, Faisalabad Waste Management Company, Vice Principal Punjab Medical College, health professionals from Allied Hospital Faisalabad and civil society representatives and students. This workshop aimed at sharing and improving the knowledge among the stakeholders about the problem of heat stress and then resilience and adaptation for the people living in slums of Faisalabad. Through extensive and elaborative discussion and experience sharing, it was resolved that in order to address environmental issues including climate change and its effect on Pakistan ecosystem, there is a need for holding frequent workshops of such kind. The Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali welcomed the participants from various disciplines and offered every possible support for heat-stress related studies in Faisalabad. Prof. Dr. Farhat Abbas – Dean Faculty of Engineering appreciated the time spared by the participants in his vote of thanks address.