Women are more vulnerable to climate change: Expert


Marylaure Crettaz, head of Cooperation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is spearheading various projects related to mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts in India. In an exclusive interview with TOI correspondent Seema Sharma, she talked about some of the projects.
Please tell us about SDC’s role in India.
SDC has been present in India for 60 years. It is in 2011, we also concentrated our support for environment and climate change in India as a part of our global program. Under this, I am heading different projects on climate adaptation and mitigation . For each segment, we focus on specific geographical locations including 12 Himalayan states. For promoting energy efficient buildings, SDC is working in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
SDC is working tremendously on promoting the concept of energy efficient buildings in the country. Please elaborate ?
We all know that building have huge share in adding to the existing Green House Gas emissions . India is moving towards urbanisation. In next 10 to 20 years, around 200 to 400 million new people will migrate to cities. The government sector too is planning for more social buildings. All these developments will means more buildings, more emissions and further rise in temperature . This will require more cooling mechanism. In many countries like Switzerland , buildings are designed to be energy efficient and built accordingly. The design include various options to provide for shading such as specific ratio between wall and windows to reduce heat transfer from inside.
Building Energy Efficiency Project , a bilateral cooperation project was launched between the Ministry of Power, Government of India and, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation in 2011 to help India design energy-efficient commercial and residential buildings. Has there been any progress on this ?
Yes, we have already started this concept in India with 20 buildings under the first phase. This includes a social building in Rajkot , Gujarat, hospital in Pune, forest complex in Rajasthan and public building in Delhi. Due to the energy efficient design, each of these buildings will consume 30-40% less energy. A new energy conservation code supported by Switzerland was also launched in India last year. Emerging economies like Maxico and Indonesia and international energy agencies are now interested to learn from India’s foray into energy efficient buildings.
Can you please elaborate on the implementation of this code in India ?
This code is a set of some rules that guide different stakeholders like architects, engineers, builders, policy makers and end-users with regard to heat transfer and reduction of temperature in the orientation of new buildings. One of the key component of the code is climatic contradiction. Each climatic condition require different orientation of buildings. For social housing, such as slum residential colonies, where people can not afford to buy air-conditioners , we need technical and engineering solutions such as good amount of ventilation, lesser glass to reduce heat absorption from outside to keep interior of houses cool. Traditionally the houses would provide ample scope for energy conservation and efficient cooling, now replaced by more usage of glass in the new buildings of India.. In future, we hope that demand for green buildings will increase where energy saving will be the key feature. It is not feasible for human to live in temperature above 40 for long. We are focussing on the co-relation of heat and health and its impact on gender.
When it comes to gender, which one is more vulnerable and why ?
Communities are facing consequences of disaster, glacier melt and other climatic events so population need to be climate resilient. Especially women who are more vulnerable as they have less access to related information, training or preparedness and empowerment . We worked on risk assessment and vulnerabilities in 12 Himalayan states. Women was one of the criterion of the assessment. It was seen that those states were more vulnerable to climate change where women were found to be lacking on the factors which I Just mentioned. If we can take women on board in all the related aspects then we can make bigger progress. In case of energy sector too, it is challenge to bring men and women on same platform. In our work , we need to be gender sensitive so at present we are working with women on rural development.
Agriculture is the back bone of Indian economy . Due to direct impact of climate change on agriculture, farmers seem to be on receiving side. Is SDC doing anything to provide relief to the farmers in this regard?
We have linked farmers with radar or remote sensing generated information . We are also informing them about good climate resilient agrarian practices. For instance, under rice crop experiment in Tamil Nadu, farmers have been directly connected with insurance companies. If the farmers are not able to sow rice crops due to availability of less water, they get compensation rapidly from insurance companies. It is unlike disaster where the victims get compensation after the event. In the monsoon season, we are now able to get clear images of condition of agrarian fields as radar can provide us images even through clouds. These images are sent to the concerned experts and institutions like universities, government officials and NGOs to analyse the radar-transmitted information . These experts analyse these images on the extent of drought or flood on the ground , thus helping timely compensation to the farmers. They also advise farmers on selection of various crops in such a given situation. The technology driven and evidence based analysis made things easier otherwise it was time consuming and quite difficult to check out each field to confirm the prevailing situation in the fields. This would indirectly lead to delayed compensation and loss to the farmers. It is interesting that whooping 37 million farmers are being insured in India. Swiss company, SARMAP, which has the expertise in interpreting and analysing the radar-sent data is helping India to read and analyse such data in different states of the country.


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