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WB: South Asia needs equitable cooling as heatwaves worsen

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*** This spring, temperatures hit nearly 50 degree Celsius across India and Pakistan, while Bangladesh and Sri Lanka sweltered under unusually high heat

Without adequate cooling, these conditions undermine countries’ development. When blistering heat strikes South Asia, the poor and most vulnerable, suffer the worst impacts. When it is too hot to work, wages are lost, pushing families into cycles of poverty. School hours are cut short, depriving children of education and future opportunities, says a World Bank report.

It said: The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights that climate change is making heatwaves more likely. This spring, temperatures hit nearly 50 degree Celsius across India and Pakistan, while Bangladesh and Sri Lanka sweltered under unusually high heat. A study found that the heatwave across India and Pakistan was 30 times more likely this year than 100 years ago, due to climate change.

At home, where many people in South Asia live in inadequately ventilated buildings without access to cooling, extreme heat harms people’s health. Meanwhile, fragmented cold chain infrastructure leads to the loss of food and vaccines, putting nutrition and public health at risk.

The economic costs are staggering. With a large percentage of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) reliant on the heat-stressed shoulders of informal workers, extreme heat does not just jeopardise the health and livelihoods of the working poor, but also the economic productivity of the region. By 2030, lost labour due to rising heat and humidity could risk up to 4.5% of India’s GDP – approximately USD 150-250 billion. Pakistan and Bangladesh could suffer losses of up to 5% of their GDP.

As urban populations grow and temperatures rise across South Asia, so too does the demand for cooling.  Keeping citizens cool while mitigating the environmental impacts – air conditioners and other cooling equipment release powerful greenhouse gases – is a challenge for governments across South Asia, which must prioritise cooling as a development strategy.

In 2019, India became one of the first countries in the world to launch a comprehensive cooling action plan – the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP), an ambitious initiative to address the country’s cooling needs while reducing climate impacts. In June 2022, Bangladesh published its own National Cooling Plan, while in October last year Pakistan announced it will adopt one by 2026.

Take South Asia’s cities, for example, many of which are plagued by high levels of poverty and bad housing conditions. More than 200 million new homes need to be built in South Asia before 2050 to meet housing needs. This provides an opportunity to change the course of urban development in the region and adopt strategies that prioritise thermal comfort. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are responding to this challenge with affordable housing programmes.

In India, where 10 million new homes need to be built annually to keep up with housing demand, the government’s affordable housing scheme has the opportunity to incorporate nature-based solutions and passive cooling techniques – to prevent heat from building up within homes – into construction and urban planning. That means using climate-friendly insulation materials, like straw, combined with materials that have high thermal mass. According to World Bank Group analysis, space cooling in India alone presents a USD 1.5 trillion opportunity by 2040, of which USD 1.25 trillion is earmarked for residential buildings.

Opportunities to scale up affordable space-cooling technologies exist in housing schemes across the region. In Bangladesh, where the urban population grew from 31 million in 2000 to 65 million in 2020, the World Bank estimates that 250,000 new houses need to be built every year to meet existing shortages . In Pakistan, the government launched a housing programme in 2019 to provide five million housing units for poor and middle-income communities by 2030.

Scaling up high-efficiency common household appliances like brushless ceiling, or BLDC, fans can ensure comfort for millions of people. With ceiling fans among the fastest-selling appliances in the Asia-Pacific region, brushless fans require approximately 65% less energy than regular fans and help save around USD 20 per fan each year in household energy bills. This has been done before. India, for instance, has already seen the uptake of transformative energy-efficient technology at scale with nationwide bulk procurement and distribution of LED lightbulbs. Replicating the LED programme to create a viable market for other energy-efficient technologies like brushless fans also creates an opportunity for economic growth in the region.



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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SJB MP: Most parents have to choose between food and children’s education

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By Saman Indrajith

Most Sri Lankan parents are compelled to choose between food for their families and their children’s eduction, SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijerathne told Parliament yesterday.

Only a few parents were able to feed and educate their children the MP said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023 under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Education and Women and Child Affairs.

“An 80-page exercise book costs Rs. 200. A CR book costs Rs 560. A pencil or pen costs Rs 40. A box of colour pencils costs Rs 570 while a bottle of glue costs Rs 150. If the father is a daily wage earner he has to spend one fourth of his salary on a box of colour pencils for his child. A satchel now costs around Rs 4,000. A pair of school shoes is above Rs 3,500. The Minister of Education knows well how many days a child could use an 80-page exercise book for taking notes. Roughly, stationery cost is around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per child, MP Wijerathne said, adding that only Rs. 232 billion had been allotted for the Ministry of Education by Budget 2023.

“After paying salaries of teachers and covering officials’ expenses, etc., there will be very little left for other important matters,” the MP said, noting that Sri Lanka would soon be known as the country that made the lowest allocation of funds for education in the South Asian region.

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All crises boil down to flaws in education system, says Dullas

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By Saman Indrajith

All the crises Sri Lanka was beset with were due to the country’s outdated education system, MP Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament yesterday.

“The political and economic crisis we are facing is the direct result of our education,” he said.

The Sri Lankan education system had not changed with global developments. Our system is not even geared for employment. Our examination system is antiquated and our classrooms are in the 19th Century.

However, the students belong to the 21st century. How can you cater to 21st Century children under an outdated system?” he queried.

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