Vulnerability to heat stress: A case study of Yavatmal, Maharashtra, India
Over the past half century, heat wave frequencies in India have increased by a third, and the risk of morbidity and mortality related to heat stress is increasing. And yet, the impact of heat in rural areas remains a blind spot.
While in earlier years, agricultural activity was low during the hottest summer months, today, the increased intensity of agriculture combined with changes in timing of working hours (i.e. working even during the hottest time of the day) means that farmers and outdoor labourers are increasingly exposed to high outdoor temperatures. In the peak summer, Yavatmal district, in rural Maharashtra, experiences high summer temperatures of up to 45°C. These same people are also exposed to high indoor temperatures, which are influenced by the building style of houses. The indoor temperature of houses with tin roofs in rural Maharashtra, for example, is higher throughout the day than that of houses with re-enforced cement concrete roofs; and often even exceeds the outdoor temperature.
In this policy brief, the Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) team reports on the results of a heat exposure vulnerability study in rural Maharashtra, India, with a focus on both outdoor and indoor temperatures.