Where the issue of global warming has never favoured a fleeting glance on the docket of any reigning government or aspiring party, the staggering impact of the disdained phenomenon is set to paralyse the country once again, with warnings of impending heatwaves liable to occur more frequently and for longer durations. Where the epitome of the scorching heatwave that took place three years ago in lower Sindh went down in our history as an unprecedented calamity resulting in 2,000 fatalities over the course of a few days, it was also the pivotal moment for our administration to gear up on a comprehensive national plan for the mitigation and restitution of such recurring natural phenomenon.

Karachi had, in fact, sought to design a heat management plan to streamline institutional roles and responsibilities and engaging the city’s private sector, philanthropists, hospitals and ambulance services, civil society organisations and provincial government departments. However, as always, the obstruction to any social development program in Pakistan remains the implementation phase that requires advocates in the right vocations to institutionalise such environmental management programs in city governance.

Based on global experiences, deaths from heatwaves are considered preventable as long as built cities are redesigned to mitigate and control the effects. Unplanned urbanisation, land-use changes, dwindling water resources and pollution largely contribute to global warming with social discrepancies like construction differences, socioeconomic disparities and the lack of a heatwave management system exposing those in the lower socio-economic strata to more danger and vulnerability in extreme heat events. Ultimately, ‘predictions and early warnings’ of a heatwave have little impact on the death toll or bumped up relief efforts in the face of such tangible and entrenched susceptibility.

Where the election season touts a myriad of politically expedient slogans and promises, city officials and government departments should advocate for change where the recurring heatwave should augur immediate and fastidious focus to implement the proposed heatwave management plan in full force to save lives and livelihoods.