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Resilience to cold waves

Published : Monday, 20 January, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 270
Farid Hasan Ahmed

Resilience to cold waves

Resilience to cold waves

Bangladesh is not a severely cold-prone country. People are habituated with a moderate winter here when the average temperature remains between 13�C and 20�C. But when cold wave sweeps the country, especially during December-January period, mercury goes down to single digit causing huge suffering for people from all walks of life.

According to media, 302,710 patients have been attacked with pneumonia, asthma and respiratory problems and other cold related diseases in last two months.
A cold wave is a weather phenomenon that is distinguished by a cooling of the air. It is a rapid fall in temperature within a 24 hour period requiring substantially increased protection to agriculture, industry, commerce, and social activities. The precise criterion for a cold wave is determined by the rate at which the temperature falls, and the minimum to which it falls. This minimum temperature is dependent on the geographical region and time of year.

Winter cold waves that aren't considered cold in some areas, but cause temperatures significantly below average for an area, are also destructive. Areas with subtropical climates may recognize unusual cold, perhaps barely freezing, temperatures, as a cold wave. In such places, plant and animal life is less tolerant of such cold as may appear rarely.

Occurrences of extreme low temperature in association with incursion of dry cold winds from north into the sub- continent are known as cold waves. The northern parts of India specially the hilly regions and the adjoining plains are influenced by transient disturbances in the mid latitude westerlies which often have weak frontal characteristics. These are known as western disturbances.

The location of Bangladesh is  in 20�22'N-26�36'N, 87�48'E-92�41'E.5It is not a severely cold-prone country. People of Bangladesh are used to face normal winter season when the average temperature remains 13�C-20�C. But when the temperature falls down to a single digit, the hazard cold wave turns to a disaster like situation.
In December and January, Bangladesh suffers from cold temperatures. Poor people in the northern part of the country are the worst affected.

Consequences of cold waves in Bangladesh:
a) Biting cold coupled with dense fog paralyze normal life both in the urban and rural areas of Bangladesh in winter Season (December and January).A cold wave sweeps across the country intensify suffering of the poor. Cold wave sometimes claims the lives.

b) The poor people, particularly the asset less people in the vulnerable region, are the most sufferers, as they lack sufficient warm clothes.

c) Many people, especially children and elderly men, are affected with various cold-related diseases.

d) Crops especially potato, wheat, mastered boro seedling and vegetables are vulnerable particularly to long lasting cold wave. Farmers and day labourers cannot work in the field due to cold.

(e) Thick fog together with harsh cold disrupts movement of all modes of transport across the country, causing immense sufferings to passengers.

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief of Bangladesh, the political parties, Humanitarian Organizations, NGOs, social organizations Banks and well off individuals distribute warm clothes and blankets among poor people in different parts of the country to reduce their sufferings. However, it is observed by conscious corner that such kind of this assistance is inadequate and very short sighted.

Few useful tips  to reduce health problems:
(1) Special cares for aged people mainly the patients of asthma and children less than five years. New Born Baby Need special and appropriate care.
(2).Gargle with hot water by adding a pinch of salt into it, it helps in curing the sore throat.
(3)Keep drinking hot drinks like coffee and tea or simply luke warm water.
(4)Add turmeric powder, ginger powder and a teaspoon of honey to warm milk. This not only helps in curing cough but also relieves from body ache, cold and headache.
(5)For cold, steam inhalation is the best home remedy.
(6)While preparing your tea, add few tulsi leaves and crushed ginger to it along with black pepper, it is much relief for cough and cold.
(7)Second hand clothes should be used after proper laundering to avoid health hazards .

Actions for Protecting Boro crops:
The following actions are suggested by relevant professionals to protect Boro seed bed from fog:
1) Cover up the seed bed with polythene sheets. 2)Shed the dew drops from seeds by pulling a rope. 3) Pour water in the affected seed beds in the afternoon and remove the water in the next morning. 4) Spray proper quantity of appropriate medicine to destroy fungus. 5) Replace new plant at the place of affected plant if possible. 6) Take advise from local agriculture officials.

A cold wave can turn into a disaster, so concerned authorities and organisations should devise a special preparedness programme to fight it. Cold waves may become a common phenomenon in the coming days, particularly in winter season.

Long-term initiatives are needed to reduce the cold wave vulnerability of the poor so that they can improve their livelihoods, increase their income for making better houses and can buy blankets and warm clothes. They should be provided with soft loan for buying winter clothes and medicines.

A special safety net programme for the affected people, particularly in the most vulnerable areas, should be taken by relevant authorities and organisations .Inclusion of winter-affected communities with proper vulnerability and capacity analysis in the development programmes of the government and other agencies can be a sustainable step for improving their winter resilience . An integrated approach, instead of isolated move like blanket distribution, is crucial in this regard.

 The writer is an expert in disaster risk reduction and climate change
adaptation, and a development Lawyer

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