Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Medical and Health Sciences

First Advisor

Professor Jacques Oosthuzien

Second Advisor

Dr Martyn Cross

Third Advisor

Dr Kwasi Frimpong

Fourth Advisor

Dr Cynthia Nombulelo Chaibva

Field of Research Code

1117

Abstract

Ambient temperatures have risen over the past few decades and are expected to increase even further due to climate change impacts. Extreme temperatures, accompanied by high humidity levels, will exacerbate occupational heat stress, heat related illnesses and mortality amongst vulnerable groups, particularly among outdoor workers in developing countries in the tropics. In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, a large portion of the population work outdoors in the informal sector as street vendors (hawkers) due to a lack of employment opportunities. These hawkers spend long hours in the sun or under makeshift sheds with poorly developed adaptation strategies, and no access to cooling systems both at work and at home. This mixed method study, conducted during the summer of 2015, explored heat exposure and adaptation strategies of informal street vendors in Bulawayo. Study participants were exposed to temperatures above 38°C during heat wave events and they were unable to cool down effectively at night due to the condition of their housing. Focus group discussions with health professionals and policy makers identified a lack of policies, programs and resources for heat prevention at local authority and national levels. It was recommended that the Zimbabwe government develop heat prevention policies and strategies in its National Climate Change Strategy and embrace community-based adaptation responses that will address heat related health impacts, particularly amongst people that work in the informal sector, who are deemed most vulnerable.

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