Elderly at risk of West African heatwave -experts say

A group of experts from the World Weather Attribution (WWA) has said that elderly are at risk of the never-seen-before heatwave sweeping across the West African sub-region.

It also stated that they are heatwave-induced deaths even though there is an absence of reliable data stating so.

Commenting on the heatwave that has hit Niger, a landlocked West African country, the WWA attributed the cause of the temperate change to the burning of fossil fuels and other activities.

“In a pre-industrial climate, we wouldn’t expect to see heat waves at this intensity at all,” WWA statistician Clair Barnes told Reuters.

“It was the hottest that anyone in living memory has had to deal with (there),” she said.

“If fossil fuel emissions do not fall “we would expect to see heatwaves like this maybe 10 times more frequently, so potentially up to 20 times a year,” Barnes said. Niger is a border country with Nigeria and both are facing the heatwave.

In February 2024, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) predicted a prolonged heatwave across the country at the time. The situation has persisted. At the time, NiMet said the air temperature in the north is at 41°C and 39°C over the south, indicating a significant increase in heatwave.

The agency warned that the high level of heat can cause dehydration, heat-related illness and respiratory issues, among other chronic conditions.

The forecast shows that residents of Ikeja, Lagos state, Warri and Asaba in Delta, among other states are likely to experience sunstroke, muscle cramps and heat exhaustion.

As a precaution, the agency advised the public to take adequate fluid to keep hydrated, wear light clothing to reduce exposure to high temperatures and avoid strenuous activities during peak heat times.


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