Heatwave: Residents of 21 districts at high risk

Residents of 21 districts are at high risk of heatwave, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BRCS) has said after analysing information on the meteorological department.

According to their report submitted to the government, at least 70 per cent of the people are mostly in trouble and danger due to heatwaves.

Majority of the people are unable to continue daily work. Many are falling sick.

Residents at 21 districts are at the highest risk while residents at 14 districts are comparatively at a bit lower risk than those of the 21 districts. The residents in the remaining districts are at lower risk of heat.

For the first time, the average temperature in the last 29 days was 37 degrees Celsius. The meteorology department has information on the weather for 76 years. According to that information, the country didn't have a heatwave for 29 consecutive days. This year, nearly 75 per cent of areas of Bangladesh faced severe heat.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Shamsuddin Shahid, a professor of Department of Water and Environmental Engineering at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), said the heatwave that is sweeping over Bangladesh is creating multiple problems. Separate preparation has to be taken if such severe heat prevails regularly. As the government takes advance preparation for cyclones and floods, similar preparations have to be taken for the summer. For example, water has to be arranged in the street, general people have to be made aware and volunteers have to be created.

Advice for issuance of red alerts

Meteorologists said the temperature of most of the areas of the country on Monday was between 35 to 43 degrees of Celsius. Moisture incursion in the air was above 50 per cent. If such moisture and temperature prevails anywhere, the World Meteorological Organisation advises to issue a red alert for the residents of that region.

The governments in the countries including India, Thailand, Vietnam have issued red and orange alerts during such temperatures. Bangladesh has been issuing heatwave alerts since 19 April.

Researchers said residents in the big cities of the country mostly suffer and are in danger due to heat. The University of Calgary, Curtin University, Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology and Bangladesh University of Professionals in a joint study said 17 million people in five cities of the country are at danger of severe heat.

Feeling of heat will increase further

According to the BMD, except for some areas of Sylhet, Netrokona and Chattogram, temperature remains above 38 to 43 degrees Celsius in the remaining areas. The actual feeling of heat was 2 to 5 degrees higher.

According to the Red Crescent Society, 21 districts, which are in highest danger, are Satkhira, Khulna, Jashore, Narail, Jhenaidah, Magura, Rajbari, Chuadanga, Kushtia, Meherpur, Pabna, Sirajganj, Naogaon, Chapainawabganj, Natore, Rajshahi, Faridpur, Madaripur, Gopalganj, Manikganj and Bagerhat.

According to the meteorological department, the highest temperature was recorded at 43 degrees Celsius in Chuadanga on Monday. The temperature in the capital was 40.5 degrees Celsius.

According to weather affairs international agencies, the highest temperature in Dhaka was 43 degrees Celsius. Weather Underground, AccuWeather and Windy have measured the temperature through the geo-satellite.

BMD meteorologist Abul Kalam Mallik said the heatwaves at a stretch in the current month have broken all records in the history of Bangladesh. Average temperature of this month has also broken all records of the past.

He said, "We are going to complete the hottest month in the country's history. But the rainfall may occur on 2 May and continue for four to five days. The heat may decrease then. The heatwave may start once the rain stops."

The meteorological department said trouble for heat may turn devastating on Tuesday and Wednesday than the previous days.

Meteorologists said rainfall may occur at different places on 2 May.

Reason behind heatwave

In a joint research titled 'Danger of heatwave at big cities of Bangladesh: An assessment', two reasons have been identified for increase in heatwave in the big cities of the country. One is rapid urbanisation and construction of housing infrastructure and another is geographical location and changes in weather patterns.

It is said in the study that Dhaka was supposed to be a less heatwave prone area due to geographical location and weather pattern. Rajshahi and Sylhet were supposed to be the nearest cities. But the matter is the opposite. Nearly 12.5 million people or 78 per cent of Dhaka are at risk of heatwaves. But the rate in Rajshahi is only 45 per cent or 400,000 people are at risk of heat waves.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, BRCS secretary Kazi Shafiqul Azam said heatwaves have created extreme risk due to heat in 30 districts including Dhaka. Poor people and labourers needed aid on an urgent basis. Drinking water has to be arranged for them and shelter centres have to be built to protect them. Otherwise, there is a fear of increasing loss and danger.

* This report, originally published in Prothom Alo online and print editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam