Village Rhapsody: Climate change: Why Africa must tell its story

Sharing Africa's climate story can contribute to shaping global narratives on climate change

The story of climate change is complex. People have never lived on a planet that was this hot.

Every day, we go into uncharted territory.

If humanity does not act, then it should be ready to suffer the consequences.

What happens in the next few years will affect not only the next generations, but also our own future.

In reality, everyone is affected, but each person is affected in a completely different way.

Cocoa farmers in Ghana are being forced to make do with recurrent droughts and ever changing rainfall patterns.

Families in Mozambique are being forced to drink salt water that keeps getting into their fields because of rising sea levels.

Floods recently devoured thousands in Libya with thousands others missing.

To really turn things around, we need everyone to join the fight to stop carbon emissions from going up, deal with the effects, and find real solutions.

For far too long, journalists and scientists from mostly developed countries have told most of the stories about climate change.

Africa has taken a back bench in issues to do with climate change.

While there is nothing wrong for United Nations Climate Change executive secretary Simon Stiell to use his vast experience and networks to lead conversations about climate change, the truth is that we need to go further and build new regional and local networks of people to tell stories about climate change.

We need more stories in Shona, Ndebele, Swahili, Luganda, Arabic and other indigenous languages so that new conversations can be triggered.

These should be local conversations that help people come up with long-term solutions in their own communities.

We no longer need to rely on other people to tell our own story. 

There is an African proverb that says, “Until the lion (read developing countries) learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter (developed countries)”.

It is everyone’s responsibility to share our story about climate change.

Why should Africa tell its climate story? Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to the impacts of climate change.

It is already experiencing the adverse effects of rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and cyclones.

These climate-related challenges have dire implications on agriculture, water resources, health, and infrastructure.

The continent’s vulnerability to climate change can be attributed to various factors.

One key factor is its reliance on rain-fed agriculture, which makes it highly susceptible to variations in rainfall patterns.

Changes in precipitation are leading to reduced crop yields, food insecurity, and increased vulnerability to hunger and malnutrition.

Additionally, many African countries have limited adaptive capacity due to factors such as poverty, weak governance systems, and inadequate infrastructure.

By sharing their experiences and highlighting the impacts they are facing, African countries can draw attention to the disproportionate burden they bear in terms of climate change despite contributing minimally to global greenhouse gas emissions.

This can help foster a sense of global solidarity and encourage developed nations to provide financial and technological support to assist Africa in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Furthermore, sharing Africa's climate story can also contribute to shaping global narratives on climate change.

The dominant narratives often focus on the experiences of developed countries or regions, neglecting the specific challenges faced by developing nations like those in Africa.

By amplifying its voice, Africa can ensure that its circumstances are considered in global discussions and decision-making processes related to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

More so, telling Africa’s climate story can serve as a catalyst for local action and innovation.

By documenting and sharing successful initiatives implemented by peers in Africa to address climate change, crucial lessons can be drawn and replicated in other parts of the continent.

This can help build resilience, enhance adaptive capacity, and promote sustainable development in the face of climate change.

Stories are a powerful way to build empathy, show wrongdoing, and get more people to work together to fight the fossil fuel industry.

The world needs to phase out heat-trapping fossil fuels if it wants to curb global warming.

By telling its story, Africa is making sure developed countries know how their pollution affects them.

The time is nigh for Africa to tell its climate story; to raise awareness about its vulnerability to climate change, advocate for support from the international community, shape global narratives on climate change, and inspire local action and innovation.

By doing so, Africa can ensure that its unique challenges and experiences are acknowledged and addressed in efforts to tackle the global climate crisis.


  • *Cliff Chiduku is a communications, public policy and governance expert with interests in climate change, agriculture and environmental issues. He writes in his personal capacity. 
  • Feedback: [email protected] or Call/WhatsApp +263775716517.


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