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‘Vulnerable’ South Asia least prepared to deal with urban heat: World Bank



South Asia is one of the regions most at risk due to extreme heat but the majority of its urban areas are ill-equipped to deal with the phenomenon, which is increasing in frequency, severity and complexity due to climate change.

This was stated in a new World Bank report which said that the region, home to a quarter of the world’s population, was accustomed to extreme heat, but rapid urbanisation and climate change were pushing the region’s limits of adaptation with lethal consequences.

The impacts of heat in South Asia are already emerging with over 3,600 heat-related deaths in India and Pakistan during the 2015 heat waves. More recently in 2022, at least one billion people in India and Pakistan experienced further record-breaking heat waves with temperatures reaching 51 degrees Celsius in some parts of Pakistan.

The report, ‘Urban Heat in South Asia: Integrating People and Places in Adapting to Rising Temperature’ said high-density living, along with low permeation of green and blue spaces, has created heat management challenges for a large number of communities in South Asia.

These environmental factors were important considering that heat adaptive measures, such as mechanical cooling through air conditioning, were rarely afforded in South Asia.In many South Asian communities, air conditioning use is impractical due to erratic electricity supply or affordability.

The report stated that across Pakistan, electricity demand often exceeded supply resulting in blackouts lasting three to four hours per day. These factors were not limited to low-income communities and extended across many urban communities in the region.

Urban heat is a rising risk across South Asian cities that is often underestimated and underreported. Unlike many other climate hazards, urban heat is a relatively predictable hazard that can be largely measured and protected against.

The report pointed out that the knowledge of urban temperatures in South Asia has been largely limited to satellite data or studies that have not accounted for spatial variability. This has limited the awareness and understanding of intra-urban heat differences in South Asian cities.

According to the report, South Asian cities face unique challenges, competing demands, and resource constraints, unlike anything in developed economies.Still, lessons could be learnt from outside the region to understand best practices and potential heat management improvements, the report suggested.

While explaining the complications of urban heat, the report said the heat has uneven spatial and social distributions, with wide variations in temperatures and adaptive capacities across buildings and cities around the world.

Urban areas often experience higher temperatures by absorbing more solar radiation than surrounding rural areas, a phenomenon called the urban heat island (UHI) effect, it stated.The existing heat risks in cities were amplified by warming temperatures from climate change as the global surface temperatures have risen 1.1C above pre-industrial levels. These global effects of climate change are further amplified at a local level through the UHI effect.

The report said that between 1950-2017, 60 per cent of the world’s urban population experienced warming twice as large as the global average, and by 2100, 25pc of the world’s largest cities could warm by 7C.

The report emphasised that future heat management efforts should be designed to address both social and spatial vulnerabilities.The cities need to map out overall heat vulnerability, including both heat risk factors, such as building density, materials and access to green/blue spaces, and demographic and socioeconomic determinants, such as income, age, education, gender, health, and social isolation.

There should be inclusive heat planning and policymaking processes to address thermal inequities, particularly in the most vulnerable communities and population groups, the report stated.The report urged policymakers in the region to ensure urban planning and development was adapted to higher temperatures in the face of climate change and the UHI effect.

The cities in the region should integrate people and place in managing the acute and chronic impacts of urban heat by better understanding the heat risks; garnering the necessary human, technical, and financial resources; and embedding urban heat resilience into planning and development processes, the report suggested.

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Foreign News

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dies aged 100




Henry Kissinger at the State Department's 230th anniversary celebrations in 2019

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has died at the age 100.

He served as America’s top diplomat and national security adviser during the Nixon and Ford administrations.

In a statement, Kissinger Associates, a political consulting firm he founded, said the German-born former diplomat died at his home in Connecticut but did not give a cause of death.

During his decades long career, Mr Kissinger played a key, and sometimes controversial, role in US foreign and security policy.

Born in Germany in 1973, Kissinger first came to the US in 1938 when his family fled Nazi Germany. He became a US citizen in 1943 and went on to serve three years in the US Army and later in the Counter Intelligence Corps. After earning bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees, he taught international relations at Harvard.

In 1969, then-President Richard Nixon appointed him National Security Adviser, a position which gave him enormous influence over US foreign policy in two administrations.


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Rupees 1,500 million allocated for ‘Greater Kandy Urban Development Program’ – State Minister for Provincial Councils and Local Government




State Minister for Provincial Council and Local Government  Janaka Wakkambura participating in a Press Briefing held at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) on Wednesday (29) under the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’,  announced that President Ranil Wickremesinghe has allocated Rs. 1,500 million for the “Greater Kandy Urban Development Program” in this year’s budget and that part of the allocation would to be utilized to develop the approach roads to Kandy City.

He also announced that the President had allocated  Rs. 1,000 million to develop tourism by enhancing facilities through the involvement of local government bodies.

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DMT unable to print nearly one million driving licences for want of blank cards



Racketeers thrive on illegal printing of DLs

By Shiran Ranasinghe

The Department of Motor Traffic was unable to print about 900,000 driving licences due for want of blank plastic cards, Commissioner General of the Department of Motor Traffic Nishantha Weerasinghe told The Island.

He said his Department was doing its best to solve the problem, which could be sorted out in six months or so.

A senior official on condition of anonymity said the Department now printed about 200 driving licences for those who were going abroad or engaged in essential services.

However, some racketeers were printing about 700 licences illegally, he said.

Rs 5,000 each was charged for issuing illegally printed licences, the official said.

Commenting on the allegations, the Commissioner General of the Department of Motor Traffic said he will investigate the matter if he receives a complaint officially.

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