Cost-Effective Traditional and Modern Coping Strategies for Heatwaves Prevalent in Tribal, Rural and Urban India

This research is carried out by Niti Mishra1, Peehu Pardeshi2, Shivani Kaim1, Dipali Bar1, Bateswar Das1, Saurabhi Niroula1, Poulami Ganguli1, Muskaan Ahmed1.  with funding support from the Global Disaster Preparedness Center.

Recently, the year 2022 recorded extreme temperatures which were greatly unpredictable. Within the tropics, India underwent major heat stress during and before the summer months, especially in the western, central and northwestern parts. India in particular is more vulnerable to heat stress due to various socio-economic and political factors. The study aims to determine the intervention, including indigenous solutions to protect against extreme heat, which is the most viable and has the most return on investment, in heatwave prone urban and rural India. It also aims to investigate the main barriers to accessing cooling options or medical care for extreme heat and to identify the policies that can help to address these barriers. The tribal, rural and urban regions of Siyawa village in Rajasthan, Dhaisarya village in Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh and Seema Puri in Northeast Delhi, covering the northwestern and central part of India, are chosen as the study areas. These areas have experienced extreme heat even before summer and the marginalized communities in these locations are extremely vulnerable owing to social, economic and political inequality prevalent in the regions.

The study utilizes a mixed method approach with qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection (both primary and secondary sources) and analysis implemented concurrently. It involves three components i.e. Evidence Gap Map (EGM), in-depth interviews, focus group discussions (FGDs), survey tools based on integrated Tanahashi model, Sustainable Livelihood Framework and Access Model of Vulnerability and Heatwave hazard, risk, vulnerability mapping. The study indicated a lack of literature on indigenous or traditional medical solutions such as utilizing herbs, food choices, and clothing on heatwaves, especially in India with the help of EGM. The gap has been filled with the help of in-depth interviews and FGDs, bringing out cost-effective indigenous and modern solutions at an individual as well as community level. It is evident amongst the residents of Siwaya village, Rajasthan, Dhaisarya village, Uttar Pradesh and Seema Puri, Delhi that there is a detrimental impact on their health, education of children, migration patterns and social life of the people due to the extreme weather condition, but they do not possess adequate capacity that can ensure the sustainability of their livelihood in the long run. There are healthcare gaps in these areas as well such as lack of facilities and services which need to be addressed by the government. Varied measures to cope with the heat stress at individual and community level are detailed in the study. These include traditional measures like natural medical techniques, certain traditional food habits, clothing patterns, housing structures, plantations, and various other measure to lower temperatures at household level have been discussed in the study. At the Government level, there is a lack of effective measures for curbing heat wave effects. To make the community resilient in the face of future heatwaves, these vulnerable communities need to be equipped with cost effective coping strategies, with assitance and recognition from the Government. Some of these traditional measures can be combined with Government measures to make their application more effective and sustainable.

  1. Jamsetji Tata School of Disaster Studies (JTSDS), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India
  2. Independent researcher, Health and Disasters

India Heat Strategies Research by N. Mishra 2022

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