The Pakistan Meteorological Department on Friday announced that Karachi will experience another heatwave from May 17 to 22. The chief meteorologist described this as a mid-level heatwave.

Sindh is no stranger to heatwaves. This is Karachi’s second heatwave of the year, the first one lasting from May 5 to 8. Experience then must have taught the Sindh government and health department the absolute seriousness with which heatwaves must be treated and the potential catastrophe they can cause if the cities are not prepared enough. One only needs to look to the lessons of 2015, where a deadly heatwave caused the deaths of about 2,000 people from dehydration and heatstroke, in Sindh, mostly Karachi.

This year, the heatwaves come with many other difficulties: the Holy month of Ramzan is a strenuous one in the hot summers of Sindh. Previous years have seen the removal of water coolers and centres on the street due to Ramzan – further exacerbating dehydration – this should not be repeated this year. Additional measures also need to be taken to filter in the impact that the coronavirus epidemic, with the second-largest number of infections in Sindh, will have. There might be a greater problem of access to healthcare facilities and communal shelters.

Having experience with an earlier heatwave, the Sindh government must be prepared in advance to deal with the challenges of a heatwave in Ramzan and the epidemic. Due to the coronavirus, it is hoped that people will be incentivised to stay at home, which will mitigate the effects of the heat. Power outrages then need to be kept to a minimum. While these temporary measures are in place to keep the costs of the heatwave in check, the Sindh government also needs to keep working on long-term measures, such as more green policies, emphasis on growing trees and lower carbon emissions to counter the impact of climate change on Sindh’s weather.