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A severe drought in East Africa is causing malnutrition rates to soar and threatening the lives of children throughout the region.
Colin Crowley/Save the Children
Food & Hunger

Humanitarian Crises Caused by Climate Change Are the Most Underreported, Study Shows


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Low-income countries are hit the hardest by climate change-induced disaster, yet they receive the least media attention, the Guardian reports

An analysis of more than 1 million online news stories showed climate change-induced crises to be the most underreported humanitarian disasters of 2018. The “Suffering in Silence 2018” report, published Thursday by CARE, showed devastating food crises that swept across Madagascar, Ethiopia, and Haiti barely received coverage.

Take Action: Ask Mozambique to Build a Bright Future and Invest in Nutrition

While climate change caused drought and hurricanes that decimated food sources for people in Ethiopia and Haiti, no more than 1,000 global news stories were published about each disaster, according to the report. Severe El Niño conditions and drought destroyed crops in Madagascar that left more than 1 million people hungry and stunted half the country’s children. There were only 34,776 news reports on the top ten least reported humanitarian disasters. 

In 2018 alone, climate change caused civil disasters in Sudan, Chad, the Philippines, Madagascar, and Ethiopia. Most neglected tragedies, nine out of 10, happened in countries in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of states (ACP). Disasters caused by extreme weather conditions killed 5,000 people the same year and left nearly 29 million people in need of humanitarian aid and emergency assistance. 

Climate change is a phenomenon caused by an increase of greenhouse gases that directly harm major crops like rice, wheat, and corn, and it’s only supposed to get worse as temperatures become more unnatural

Children living in crisis-affected areas are less likely to attend school and receive opportunities to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. Experts say the media’s failure to tell the stories of the people most affected by climate change has several other serious consequences. 

Read More: These 2 Things Are Key to Solving the Food Crisis: UN

Sven Harmeling, the climate change policy lead for CARE, which commissioned the report, said the world’s lowest-income countries are the least prepared to deal with the impacts of climate change. Asad Rehman, the executive director of the anti-poverty charity War on Want told the Guardian people of color are disproportionately affected by climate change and the most ignored. 

“We see more and more complex and chronic crises competing for public attention,” Caroline Kende-Robb, CARE International secretary general, explained.

Rehman noted the media is more likely to focus on the animals affected by climate change than the people. 

Media coverage is essential to driving crises funding and creating political pressure to protect vulnerable countries, Kende-Robb said.

“Media outlets, politicians, states and aid agencies need to join forces to find innovative ways to draw public attention to humanitarian needs,” she urged