BY ARYN BAKER FOR TIME

It’s just after 7 in the morning in the Pakistani city of Jacobabad, and donkey-cart driver Ahsan Khosoo is already drenched in sweat. For the past two hours, the 24-year-old laborer has been hauling jugs of drinking water to local residences. When the water invariably spills from the blue jerricans, it hits the pavement with an audible hiss and turns to steam. It’s hot, he agrees, but that’s not an excuse to stop. The heat will only increase as the day wears on, and what choice does he have? “Even if it were so hot as if the land were on fire, we would keep working.” He pauses to douse his head with a bucket of water.

Jacobabad may well be the hottest city in Pakistan, in Asia and possibly in the world. Khosoo shakes his head in resignation. “Climate change. It’s the problem of our area. Gradually the temperatures are rising, and next year it will increase even more.”

To avoid the heat, tractor drivers in this largely agricultural area till the fields at night and farmers take breaks from noon to 3, but if life stopped every time the temperature surpassed 40°C (104°F), nothing would ever get done. “Even when it’s 52°C to 53°C, we work,” says Mai Latifan Khatoom, a young woman working in a nearby field.

The straw has to be gathered, the seeds winnowed, the fields burned, the soil turned, and there are only so many hours in the day. She has passed out a few times from the heat, and often gets dizzy, but “if we miss one day, the work doesn’t get done and we don’t get paid.”

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