Areas under Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) are particularly vulnerable to the urban heat effect due to its densely populated urban core, with hotspots in the city causing its temperature to be more than 10°C higher than the surrounding region.
The DNCC and the US-based Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation revealed the joint research data at an event on Wednesday.
These extreme conditions are threatening lives and causing productivity losses greater than 8% of the city’s annual output, says the research.
With the number of dangerously hot days estimated to double by 2050, the impact of extreme heat will grow exponentially – with a greater burden falling on women and girls.
Building Urban Heat Resilience in collaboration with DNCC and the Adrienne Arsht Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Centre (RSHT-ROC) was inaugurated at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhavan, Dhaka University.
At the time, Mayor Atiqul Islam said that DNCC and Adrienne Arsht Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Centre (ARSHT-ROCK) will work together to control the temperature. For this work, Bushra Afrin has been appointed as chief heat officer in Dhaka North City, the first city in Asia.
The mayor announced that 200,000 trees will be planted with the help of councillors in various wards under DNCC in the next two years to control the temperature.
At the same time, Ecopark will be constructed in Kalyanpur like Hatirjheel, Atiqul added.
“Initiatives have been taken to recover 29 canals. Some 2,000 trees have been planted on both sides of the Lautla Canal. An initiative has been taken to recover 18 bighas of land in Kalshi and make an open park there. We have developed a child-friendly open public space in Mirpur,” he further added.
The mayor said that plans and lists have been prepared for planting trees along footpaths and roads. Besides, the mayor emphasized more and more rooftop gardens in buildings.
He also announced plans to make Dhaka’s footpaths and roads suitable for rainwater conservation and reuse.
Besides, 40,000 energy-efficient LED lights have been installed in Dhaka city for reduced heat.
Bushra Afreen said: “I’m thrilled to join a global movement of city leaders and experts committed to protecting people and communities from extreme heat in my city. As a native of Dhaka, I know first-hand the urgent need for action to address extreme heat in our city, where temperatures are rising at an alarming rate, and informal communities, migrants, and women and girls, are disproportionately affected.”
According to published research data, every day 2,000 people move to Dhaka, with 70% of them doing so because of climate-related disasters.
Shakti Foundation Climate Change Department Director Sohani Huq Elias said: “Shakti Foundation has been tirelessly working to build climate resilience, awareness and community-based adaptation strategies. Increasing temperature and intense heat are disproportionately impacting the less privileged communities, especially women and children in every sphere of life, the very group we have been working with over the last 30 years. Through this collaboration, we hope to find some innovative and sustainable solutions for them and make the city we love more liveable for all.”
Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman said that Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka University have taken joint cooperative efforts to solve global warming as well as local causes behind the increase in temperature. The vice chancellor mentioned that Dhaka University will extend full cooperation to DNCC in this regard.
Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Centre Senior Advisor (Heat and City Diplomacy) Mauricio Rodas said: “We are thrilled to welcome Dhaka North as our first City Champion for Heat Action in Asia. Our partnership will boost ongoing heat resilience efforts and encourage other cities in the region to follow suit.”
Arsht-Rock Director and Senior Vice President Kathy Baughman McLeod said: “Extreme heat is acting like a pressure cooker on cities all over the world, and as populations bulge in places like North Dhaka, a chief heat officer is essential. Bushra Afreen’s role can act as a role model for cities all over South Asia – and Arsht-Rock is proud to be her partner and co-deliver solutions for protecting communities across DNCC.”
DU Pro VC (Education) ASM Maksud Kamal attended the event as a special guest and urged everyone to work together to control the temperature of Dhaka city.
DNCC CEO Selim Reza presented the welcome address on the occasion and Chairman of DU’s Disaster Science and Climate Resilience Department and Dean of the Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Dr Md Zillur Rahman delivered the closing remarks.