Facing the Heatwave Crisis: Kishan Kunj’s Struggle and SEEDS’ Intervention

Facing the Heatwave Crisis: Kishan Kunj’s Struggle and SEEDS’ Intervention

In the bustling metropolis of Delhi, where modern amenities and air-conditioned homes provide comfort to many, the story is starkly different in the marginalized community of Kishan Kunj. While some residents of Delhi enjoy the luxury of climate control and well-insulated homes, the hardworking people of Kishan Kunj, who contribute tirelessly to the city’s economy, endure severe heatwave conditions with minimal resources. These vulnerable individuals face immense struggles to meet their daily needs, often unable to sleep peacefully due to the oppressive heat.

The Struggles of Living in Kishan Kunj

Vinod, a door-to-door vendor, and his family live in a makeshift hut that offers little protection against the scorching heat. Earning a modest income, the family struggles not just with financial instability, but also with the physical and psychological toll of the heatwaves. The lack of basic amenities, such as proper drinking water, exacerbates their hardship. Residents often find themselves bathing in the open, highlighting the acute water scarcity and privacy issues they endure daily in Kishan Kunj.

Another story is of Razia who lives in the bustling Kishan Kunj slum of Delhi with her husband and two young sons. Every summer, as the scorching heat of the afternoon sun bore down on the city, Razia’s heart would fill with dread. Her children, left at home while she worked, often fell ill from the oppressive heat. Fevers, heat strokes, and other heat-related ailments plagued them, adding to her worries and medical expenses.

Razia recalled a time during the COVID pandemic when her husband had brought vegetables home in jute bags. To keep the vegetables fresh, he would sprinkle water on the bags, and it worked remarkably well. This memory sparked an idea in Razia’s mind: if the jute bags could keep vegetables cool, could they help cool her home too?

Determined to try, Razia began using wet jute bags to cool her house. The difference was noticeable almost immediately. Her children stopped having recurring fevers, and the money that used to go to doctors decreased. The once-frequent bouts of heat stroke and prickly heat were now rare.

Seeing this positive change, Razia shared this with her neighbors. They were skeptical at first, but soon they too noticed the benefits. Her neighbors began to adopt the same method, spreading the word throughout their community. Razia’s sister even implemented the technique in her own home, placing a woven mat on the roof and covering it with a tarpaulin to keep the house cool without needing to constantly sprinkle water.

When Razia visited her sister-in-law’s house during Eid, she suggested using the same method to combat the heat. Her sister-in-law, who lived in a room with an asbestos sheet roof, embraced the idea and spread jute bags on the roof. The woven mat absorbed the rainwater, keeping the room cool for longer periods.

Razia felt a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that her simple experiment had made such a significant impact. Her community had embraced her idea, and she was determined to continue spreading this knowledge. She believed it was essential to protect everyone from the heat to ensure the younger generation remained healthy and strong. Razia made it her mission to visit homes and educate people on how they could safeguard themselves from the relentless summer heat. After all, if the younger generation became weak due to illness, how would they grow and thrive?

SEEDS’ Life-Saving Intervention

In 2022, SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society) a 30 year old organization stepped in to provide much-needed relief to the residents of Kishan Kunj. Through their heatwave awareness sessions, SEEDS educated the community on simple yet effective techniques to protect themselves from the extreme heat.

SEEDS also installed thermal insulation sheets in many homes in Kishan Kunj. These sheets play a crucial role in minimizing heat exchange between surfaces, thereby regulating indoor temperatures. Vinod’s family benefited greatly from this intervention. “Since SEEDS installed the insulation sheets, the temperature inside our hut has significantly dropped. We can now sleep better and feel more comfortable during the day,” Vinod explains.

Building Community Resilience

SEEDS didn’t stop at individual household interventions. They also trained the community on ‘Climate Change and Extreme Heat,’ curating training modules for first responders. This training equipped local residents, like ASHA worker Renu Pandey, with the knowledge and skills to raise awareness about heatwave issues and provide essential healthcare services.

Renu shares her experience, “The training on heatwave has been invaluable. We now understand the importance of staying hydrated, wearing light-colored clothing, and keeping our homes cool. I’ve seen a noticeable difference in the health of the community, especially among children.”

Enhancing Community Facilities

Another significant contribution by SEEDS was the renovation of the local drinking water point. Munna Mishra, a resident of Kishan Kunj, recounts how SEEDS transformed this facility, “SEEDS installed a 750-liter tank and another 1000-liter cold drinking water point. Every day, around 1500-1600 people come to fetch water. It’s a lifesaver during the scorching summer months.”

SEEDS’ efforts have not only provided immediate relief but also fostered a sense of community resilience. By involving residents in the maintenance and upkeep of these facilities, SEEDS has ensured that these interventions have a lasting impact.

Staying Cool and Safe in Kishan Kunj: Summer Heat Safety Tips from Teacher Chanchal Gupta

Teacher Chanchal Gupta from MCD Vishwakarma Park School in Kishan Kunj, East Delhi, is advising students and community members on how to stay safe and comfortable during the increasingly hot summer days. As temperatures rise, she emphasizes the importance of transitioning from winter to summer habits. This includes switching to summer clothing, using fans, and staying hydrated by always carrying a water bottle. She also suggests using umbrellas and caps to shield from the sun.

Highlighting the approaching summer holidays, Ms. Gupta advises taking additional precautions, like ensuring that pets and local wildlife have access to water. For instant relief from the heat, she recommends consuming water-rich fruits such as watermelons, grapes, and mangoes, and staying refreshed with drinks like lemonade, Rooh Afza, and glucose solutions. The teacher’s message is clear: proper preparation and continuous hydration are key to avoiding heat-related issues and ensuring a healthy and enjoyable summer for everyone.

A Brighter Future

The story of Kishan Kunj is a great example of the power of community-driven solutions in the face of climate challenges. Razia’s newfound leadership and the proactive efforts of residents like Munna Mishra and Renu Pandey highlight the transformative impact of SEEDS’ interventions.

“I will go door-to-door, sharing what I’ve learned about protecting ourselves from the heat,” says Razia. “It’s important that we do everything we can to safeguard our children and our future.”

Through education, practical interventions, and community involvement, SEEDS has brought hope and relief to the marginalized residents of Kishan Kunj. SEEDS work stands as a beacon of resilience, demonstrating how collective action and simple solutions can make a significant difference in the lives of those most vulnerable to climate extremes.

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