How climate change affects the health of the population of Kazakhstan

Posted July 17, 2022
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Alisher Bektemirov

Today there is not a single person on the planet who would not experience global climate change. Due to its large territory, lack of access to the World Ocean, and extreme continental climate, in the coming years, Kazakhstan will have to face desertification, an increase in forest and steppe fires, melting glaciers, degradation of water systems; and floods, hurricanes, and other adverse consequences in some regions.

 

 

 

To understand the impact of climate change on the health of population of Kazakhstan, experts have compiled a ‘Report on initial assessment of the impact of climate change on health of population and the healthcare system of the Republic of Kazakhstan’ supported by United Nations Development Program (UNDP). According to the report, climate change in Kazakhstan can have more than 30 negative consequences, both as a result of direct and indirect impacts.

The direct impact of climate change can be expressed as:

  • Natural disasters: for example, earthquakes, floods, landslides, mudslides, forest and steppe fires, etc. As a result, the risk of deaths and injuries among residents of the country increases. 
  • Quantity reduction and deterioration of quality of drinking water. According to experts, already existing shortage of water resources in Kazakhstan is due to natural conditions, inefficient and irretrievable consumption and the fact that about half of the runoff is formed on the territory of neighboring states. 
  • An increase in ambient temperature can increase the number of deaths from cardiovascular diseases, exacerbation of mental illness.
  • The deterioration of air quality leads to an increase in the incidence of various respiratory, allergic and oncological diseases. 
  • Climate warming affects the prevalence rate of natural focal infectious diseases, for example, cholera, hepatitis A, dysentery, tick-borne encephalitis, malaria.

            The indirect impact of climate change is expressed in various spheres:

  • Growth and/or exacerbation of mental illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorders, depression.
  • Impact on women's health and safety: violation of women's reproductive health, various types of violence against women.
  • Food production and consumption: reduced availability and increased cost of food, hunger and malnutrition, poisoning due to the need to use pesticides.
  • Changes in infrastructure and services: power outages, increased demand for electricity, restriction of access to emergency medical services, restriction of access to medical services in clinics and hospitals, restriction of access to medicines, increased burden on utilities.
  • Socio-economic consequences: forced migration of the population, the emergence of conflicts, unemployment, increased crime.

 

 

The above-mentioned negative consequences of climate change affect different social groups of the population in different ways. The most vulnerable categories are women, children, the elderly, large families, persons with disabilities, and low-income families. 

 

To date, Kazakhstan is actively involved in international regulation of environmental protection and chemical safety issues. The country has ratified many international agreements and conventions in this area. The national legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan is also aimed at implementing measures to protect the environment and combat climate change. The main regulatory legal acts in environmental protection is the Environmental Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, approved on January 2, 2021.

 

The information presented in the report shows the seriousness of climate change and its impact on the health of the population of Kazakhstan from the increase in mortality due to natural disasters to the aggravation of food security. To avoid the worst-case scenarios, it is necessary to take appropriate effective measures as soon as possible, both for the state and residents of the country.