Since when did the suffering of 12 million people stop being headline news?

This morning before work I spent my usual few moments educating myself about today’s news on the BBC website.

I was especially interested in reading the latest about the Horn of Africa drought and famine because in five days I will be travelling to Kenya myself to visit a range of Practical Action’s projects. My trip will include four days in Mandera, an area in the very north of the country, and one which is severely affected by the worst drought in 60 years.

However, it took me much longer than I expected to read news about the drought. In fact, it took me four mouse clicks to reach any sort of update about the current crisis. The drought does not even headline the Africa section of the BBC news page.

This horrifies me perhaps even more than I can express. Since when did the suffering of 12 million people stop being headline news?

When reading the comments section underneath virtually every article on Africa and development and poverty on any mainstream news website, there is a worryingly high number of opinions along the lines of “Africa brings its poverty on itself”, “it’s not the West’s problem anymore, we’ve done enough”, “charity begins at home”, “just give them condoms” and a whole host of other ill-thought out, lazy and ignorant attitudes.

Of course development has its problems. But when the lives of 12 million people – and most of these children – are at risk these do not matter.

You have two choices. Bury your head in the sand and ignore the suffering of so many because it has nothing to do with you – which is a very easy choice, as demonstrated by the absence of the crisis from mainstream news. 

Or support relief efforts of other NGOs, and the long-term development work of Practical Action.

You can give, and try to help.

Or you can choose not to. And more many innocent girls and boys from Africa will die.

I will be reporting from Kenya throughout my time there. Stay tuned.

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