As the temperature rises, ice becomes a hot item.

Record-breaking heat has made ice more expensive than bread or milk in parts of Mali.

“It’s very hot right now, so I came to buy ice,” said Fatuma Yattala, 15, who visited a local store in the capital, Bamako.

With no refrigerator available due to a prolonged power outage, she uses ice cubes to preserve food and stay cool during the heat wave, when temperatures soar to 48 degrees Celsius.

It works to some extent, but rising prices are making life even more difficult. “Some small bags cost 100 CFA francs ($0.20, £0.16),” she says, “and even 300 or 500 francs is too expensive.”

This makes ice more expensive than bread, with a standard baguette usually costing around 250 CFA.

For Nana Konate Traore, having to cook every day instead of several times a week is an even bigger struggle.

“We often spend the whole day without power, so the food spoils and we have to throw it away,” she says.

Troubles began nearly a year ago, when Mali’s state-run electricity company has racked up hundreds of millions of dollars in debt in recent years and has been unable to meet growing demand. Many Malians do not have backup generators because it is expensive to refuel.

The lack of electricity means there are no fans at night, forcing many to sleep outside. And it’s affecting people’s health.

“We are really suffering,” says Soumaira Maiga, a young man from Irimadio district on the outskirts of Bamako.

“The temperature can reach 46 degrees Celsius at night. I can’t stand it because I suffer from dizziness. I have to deal with it by covering myself with water.”

Soumaira Maiga

Sumaira Maiga says unbearable heat is affecting her health [BBC]

Since March, temperatures in some parts of Mali have risen to more than 48 degrees Celsius, killing more than 100 people. The most vulnerable are the elderly and young people.

“There were about 15 inpatients a day,” said Professor Yacouba Trouba, who works at Bamako’s University Hospital.

“Many patients are dehydrated and the main symptoms are cough and bronchial congestion. Some have difficulty breathing,” he told the BBC.

Schools have been closed in some areas as a precaution, and citizens of the Muslim-majority country have been advised not to fast during the recently ended Ramadan.

“We need to plan more for a situation like this, which will probably happen again. This time it surprised us,” adds Professor Trova.

The deadly heatwave has also affected neighboring countries including Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Niger and Chad.

The cause of such abnormal weather is human-induced climate change.according to World Weather Attribution (WWA) scientists.

“A five-day extreme heatwave as rare as the one observed in Mali/Burkina Faso would be 1.5°C and 1.4°C in the wider Sahel if humans had not warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels. It must have been cold.” Their latest report says:.

With temperatures expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius over the next few weeks in Bamako, people are trying to adapt to the new normal.

As the sun sets over the capital, Konate Traore takes several large mats and lays them out in the garden outside.

“We have to stay outside all the time because it’s hot. When it’s hot, we get sick,” she says.

“It’s never easy.”

A woman with an ice pack in Bamako, Mali.A woman with an ice pack in Bamako, Mali.

The heat shows no signs of slowing down. [BBC]

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