Mothers bear brunt of climate change in Pakistan

STORY: In Pakistan, temperatures have hit a record-breaking 51 degrees Celsius.

People are struggling to breathe, smothered by an unprecedented heatwave.

It's one of the most alarming consequences of global warming, in a place already considered one of the world's hottest cities.

We take a look at what this means for a population that largely works outside in that sweltering heat.

Raiza, a mother of a young baby girl, worries about keeping her little body cool, so she doesn't cry in the afternoon heat.

"We get water from the cart to bathe the children, then they will become calmer. We then use hand fans to cool them down further. This way, we keep them calm because it is very hot here."

And this family of 14 sit around an unmoving fan, since power cuts became a serious headache during the heatwave.

"On hot days, we just sit down, regardless of fans running or not running, with or without electricity, and the only thing we do is pray to God."

Most people work on the farms that surround Jacobabad, exposing them to scorching heat.

Jacobabad has high rates of poverty that leave its population of approximately 200,000 people vulnerable to the scorching temperatures.

Health workers have raised concerns about the quality of drinking water in the city, and the cost of bottled water is putting stress on families, forcing them to carefully ration it.

Local officials said water shortages were partly due to electricity cuts, which mean water cannot be filtered and sent via pipes throughout the city.

Local NGO worker, Liza Khan is worried about the health of the most vulnerable.

"Whether that’s day, whether that’s night, whether that’s rainy season, whether that’s summer season, they just have to cook. And even in the villages, they just have to go to the fields and they have to work and there is no roof before above them."

Pregnant women exposed to heat for prolonged periods of time have a higher risk of suffering complications.

That's according to an analysis of 70 studies conducted since the mid-1990s.

Women are especially vulnerable to rising temperatures in poor countries on the frontlines of climate change because many have little choice but to work through their pregnancies and soon after giving birth.

So what are some strategies to address the specific needs of women?

Experts recommend clean-energy stoves to replace open-fire cooking, medical and social services during early morning or evening hours when it is cooler, and replacing tin roofs on homes with cooler material in white to reflect the sun.

On May 14, Jacobabad was recorded as the hottest place on earth.

It's a worrying sign that makes living conditions unbearable, as more intense weather like droughts and heatwaves affects crops and food security, water shortages and the survival of the most vulnerable in society.

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