West Africa's deadly heatwave is man-made: report

STORY: On a hospital bed in Niger, a 96-year-old woman lies motionless, attached to a drip.

She is one of possibly thousands of victims of West Africa's worst heatwave in living memory.

That extreme weather was a once in a 200-year event, a report said on Thursday (April 18), driven by man-made climate change and likely to be come much more frequent.

In late March and early April many West African countries were gripped by days and nights of temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, or 40 Celsius.

At the hospital in Niamey, Zeynabou Toure says her mother quickly sickened.

"When we arrived, the doctors informed us that there wasn't enough water left in her body. She's not drinking enough water, they said. We've had to be here for 10 days, but today she's doing much better than when we arrived."

The severity of the heatwave led climate scientists from World Weather Attribution to conduct a rapid analysis.

It concluded that the temperatures would not have been reached if industry had not warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels and other activities.

And according to Clair Barnes, a WWA statistician, the situation is likely to get worse.

"Two degrees of warming, which is the threshold we often look at for future temperatures, we would expect to see heat waves like this maybe 10 times more frequently, potentially up to 20 times per year for these really extreme temperatures. So it's something people are going to have to adapt to and learn to live with, unfortunately."

Despite a lack of data, the WWA estimates that the heatwave led to hundreds, or possibly thousands of deaths.

Older people, like Toure's mother, are particularly vulnerable.

The WWA is recommending that countries formulate heat action plans.

They would warn citizens when extreme temperatures are imminent and offer guidance on how to prevent overheating.