Now Reading
Water crisis, power cuts worsen misery in Pakistan’s hottest city | Climate Crisis News

Water crisis, power cuts worsen misery in Pakistan’s hottest city | Climate Crisis News

Pakistan heatwave

When Saeed Ali, a Pakistani student, arrived at the hospital, the hospital was already full. one of the world’s hottest citiesHis body was suffering heatstroke, and he was unable to function.

After walking home from school in the scorching sun, the 12-year-old collapsed. He had spent his entire day sweating in a classroom without fans.

“A rickshaw driver had to carry my son here. He couldn’t even walk,” the boy’s mother Shaheela Jamali told AFP from his bedside.

Jacobabad, in Pakistan’s arid Sindh province, is in the grip of the latest South Asia is hit by a heatwave – peaking at 51 degrees Celsius (124 Fahrenheit) at the weekend.

Canals in the city – a vital source of irrigation for nearby farms – have run dry, with trickles of stagnant water barely visible around strewn rubbish.

Experts agree that the searing weather is in line to global warming projections.

The city is on the “front line of climate change”, said its Deputy Commissioner Abdul Hafeez Siyal. “The overall quality of life here is suffering.”

Jacobabad and its environs have one million residents. They live in extreme poverty with power cuts and water shortages that make it difficult to beat the heat. Residents face desperate choices.

Pakistan heatwave
During a Jacobabad power cut, a woman uses a papersheet to fan her child. [Aamir Qureshi/AFP]

Doctors said Saeed was in a critical condition, but his mother – driven by a desire to escape poverty – said he would return to school next week.

“We don’t want them to grow up to be labourers,” Jamali told AFP, her son listless and tearful at her side.

Heatstroke – when the body becomes so overheated it can no longer cool itself – can cause symptoms from lightheadedness and nausea to organ swelling, unconsciousness, and even death.

Bashir Ahmed, a nurse, treated Saeed at a new clinic for heatstroke run by Community Development Foundation. She said that the number of patients in serious condition was increasing.

“Previously, the heat would be at its peak in June and July, but now it’s arriving in May,” Ahmed said.

Labourers who are forced to work in the sun are the most vulnerable.

Brick kiln workers trade alongside furnaces that can reach temperatures up to 1,000 degrees Celsius.

“The severe heat makes us feel like throwing up sometimes, but if I can’t work, I can’t earn,” said Rasheed Rind, who started on the site as a child.

‘Water mafias’

Jacobabad lives in heat.

“It’s like fire burning all around. What we need the most are electricity and water,” said blacksmith Shafi Mohammad.

In rural areas, there are only six hours of electricity per day and in cities, 12 hours.

Access to drinking waters is not reliable and affordable in Pakistan due to major infrastructure problems and scarcity.

Pakistan heatwave
A pedestrian uses a waterpipe to cool down on a hot summer’s day in Karachi [Rizwan Tabassum/AFP]

Khairun Nissa gave way to her son during the heatwave. Her last days of pregnancy were spent under a single ceiling fan, caring for her family of 13.

Her two-day-old son now takes her place under the gentle breeze.

“Of course, I’m worried about him in this heat, but I know God will provide for us,” said Nissa.

A government-installed water tap is running dry outside their three-room brick house.

But local “water mafias” are filling the supply gap.

They have used the government’s reserves to pump water to their own distribution points. Cans are filled by donkey carts and transported by donkey carriage to be sold at 20 Rs ($0.25) per 20 Liters (roughly five gallons).

“If our water plants weren’t here, there would be major difficulties for the people of Jacobabad,” said Zafar Ullah Lashari, who operates an unlicensed, unregulated water supply.

‘Nothing we can do’

In a farming village on the outskirts of the city, women wake up at 3am to pump drinking water all day from a well — but it is never enough.

“We prefer our cattle to have clean drinking water first because our livelihood depends on them,” said Abdul Sattar, who raises buffaloes for milk and sale.

They will not compromise on this, even if their children have skin conditions or diarrhoea.

“It is a difficult choice but if the cattle die, how would the children eat?” he said.

Pakistan is the eighth-most dangerous country. Extreme weatherAccording to the Global Climate Risk Index, compiled by Germanwatch, an environmental NGO, climate change is the main cause.

In recent years, floods, droughts, cyclones have caused thousands of deaths and damage to infrastructure and livelihoods.

Many people choose Jacobabad to leave during the hottest months. This leaves some villages half empty.

Sharaf Khatoon runs a makeshift camp in the capital with 100 people who survive on a few rupees each that their male relatives earn from menial labor.

See Also
How climate change will change Canada - and how we can make our communities more resilient

They usually move the camp during the hottest months. They live three hours from Quetta where temperatures are as high as 20 degrees Celsius lower.

They will be leaving late this year, unable to save enough money for the trip.

“We have headaches, unusual heartbeats, skin problems, but there is nothing we can do about it,” said Khatoon.

Professor Nausheen H. Anwar, who studies urban design in hot cities, stated that authorities must look beyond emergency response and think long-term.

“Taking heatwaves seriously is important, but sustained chronic heat exposure is particularly critical,” she said.

“It’s exacerbated in places like Jacobabad by the degradation of infrastructure and access to water and electricity which compromises people’s capacity to cope.”

Pakistan heatwave
During a hot summer day, a volunteer pours water onto an auto-rickshaw driver in Karachi [Rizwan Tabassum/AFP]

A dried-up canal is filled with trash, and hundreds of boys and girls rush to a school to take their end-of the-year exams.

They gather around a pump to gulp water, exhausted before the day even begins.

“The biggest issue we face is not having basic facilities – that’s why we experience more difficulties,” said head teacher Rashid Ahmed Khalhoro.

“We try to keep the children’s morale high but the heat impacts their mental and physical health.”

He appealed to government to make summer vacations more accessible because extreme temperatures are arriving earlier in year.

Although some classrooms have fans (some do), most do not. Everybody feels semi-darkness when the electricity is cut within an hour of the start of the school day.

Some rooms are so difficult that children are forced to move into corridors. Children often faint from the pain.

“We suffocate in the heat. We sweat profusely and our clothes get drenched,” said 15-year-old Ali Raza.

The boys admitted to AFP that they had headaches and frequent diarrhoea, but they refused to miss lessons.

Khalhoro said that his students are determined and determined to escape poverty and find work that allows them to escape the heat.

“They are prepared as though they are on a battlefield, with the motivation that they must achieve something.”

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.