Africa is being ignored, once again. According to a new analysis (pdf), the continent is a “blind spot” for coverage of the humanitarian crises that are being fuelled by the climate emergency. 9 out of the 10 countries where at least one million people were affected by natural or man-made disasters but received the least media attention were in Africa, where temperatures are rising twice as fast as the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Currently, Zimbabwe is in danger of running out of food within weeks and East African countries are battling swarms of desert locusts (which were preceded by floods preceded by drought) which are eating everything in their path. Yet, coverage of this is highly lacking, even in international conferences discussing climate change crises.
Last year, climate change activism headlines in the West were dominated by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg. The headlines neglected to mention that Greta's activism, and that of her fellow activists, was built on the backs of black and brown activists, and Africans, whose continent is going to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change and global warming, was barely mentioned (neither were African activists highlighted, and one cannot fail to mention the big faux pas that the Associated Press made last week when they cropped Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate out of a photo with Greta Thunberg and three other white activists in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum).
In Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Eswatini and Lesotho, a chronic food crisis reached emergency levels last year and affected 11 million people by October 2019. The crisis was estimated to affect 45 million more people across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the next six months.
The top 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises of 2019 are as follows:
1. Madagascar. The chronic food crisis in Madagascar where 2.6 million people were affected by drought in 2019 came top of the list of 10 of the most under-reported crises last year.
2. Central African Republic (CAR). The ongoing conflict in CAR received little attention.
3. Zambia. 2.3 million people in Zambia are experiencing famine due to drought.
4. Burundi. Instability in Burundi is causing displacement and the hunger of 1.7 million people.
5. Eritrea. Eritrea suffered a severe drought in 2019. The drought followed an above-average dry 2018 which worsened the situation as crop failures led to food insecurity and malnourishment in wide parts of the population, with nomadic communities being especially vulnerable. Half of all children under five are stunted as a consequence of malnourishment.
6. North Korea. The North Koran government is an authoritarian regime under whose authority North Koreans are extensively controlled by the government and have suffered starvation. Those who try escaping the country (North Korean defectors) and are unfortunate enough to get caught are punished severely (sometimes even facing death in political prison camps). According to UN estimates, around 10.9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance to meet their food, health, water, sanitation, and hygiene needs and 43% of the population is undernourished as agricultural food production fails to meet their requirements due to the lack of modern equipment, compounded by heatwaves, droughts, and floods.
7. Kenya. Kenya received only 20% of the expected rainfall in 2019. Additionally, 1.1 million people experienced food scarcity amid both floods and drought.
8. Burkina Faso. The escalating violence has affected 5.2 million (a quarter of the population).
9. Ethiopia. Ethiopia is one of the world's most drought-prone countries. 7.9 million people in Ethiopia are undergoing cycles of disaster, hunger, and displacement.
10. Lake Chad Basin. Lake Chad, the largest lake in the Chad basin, provides water to more than 30 million people living in the four countries surrounding it (Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria) on the central part of the Sahel. The lake has been shrinking dramatically in recent decades.