Basic infrastructure issues such as poor governance, corruption, and unclear planning haven’t deterred Pakistani citizens from forming community-based initiatives to help the victims of the recent heat wave. Due to escalating temperatures, the current heat wave in Pakistan has taken over 1000 lives while many others continue to suffer in the grueling conditions. According to the United Nations, Pakistan is one of the most water stressed countries in the world and electricity shortages have added to the growing problems in the country, especially for the impoverished community.
Incidentally, June is also the month (this year) when many Muslims are observing Ramadan and fasting from sunrise to sunset. Due to deeper a sense of spirituality, many people continue to fast despite the difficulties. Clerics and scholars have repeatedly told Muslim citizens in Pakistan that those who cannot bear fasting in difficult conditions can delay it.
Besides the relief camps set up by the government and the military, citizens are forming groups and small organizations to gather basic supplies for the needy. Online forums make it easier for people to come together and collect alms, gather supplies, and deliver them to various locations. Comprehensive Disaster Response Services (CDRS), led by Todd Shea, is one organization that is collaborating with people at home and abroad to collect funds for the victims. The organization was created after the founder’s deployment to Pakistan in October 2005 to assist with earthquake relief efforts.
Mustahiq is another such group in which founders and members collect food, clothing, and arrange for shelter when needed. Faith, another organization, is also part of the same community-based approach that seeks to gather funds or basic necessities for people in need of dire help. According to their Facebook page, the organization has delivered bottles of water, dates, and other food items to various parts of Karachi. They continue to collect donations for the treatment of heat wave victims. People tend to donate more during the holy month as giving alms is an integral part of the spirit of Ramadan.
It is not unusual for the weather to get extremely hot in Pakistan, especially during the months of June and July, but prolonged power cuts have made the situation unmanageable and unbearable. On Saturday, temperatures reached 44.8 degrees Celsius (112.64 degrees Fahrenheit) — the highest-recorded temperature in the country in the last 15 years. Edhi Foundation, one of the most famous charity organizations in Pakistan, has received an influx of bodies that they are struggling to keep cool until they can be buried. The cemeteries and morgues are also trying to manage the bodies of those who have passed away.
Pakistan’s heat wave is brutal, but Pakistanis are doing all they can to manage the damage.