Climate Change, Africa wake up!


This Article analyses the environmental impact of climate change in Sub Saharan Africa with Reference to three online media articles from, PLOS-Neglected tropical diseases and SABC news.  It will outline; what are the drivers of change, what issues are made problematic, and further more what can be done to rectify the situation as well as means to do so. This article will look at journal  articles from Shelby Grant and Mary Lawhon, ‘Reporting on rhinos: analysis of the newspaper coverage of rhino poaching’ (2014) as well as ‘Humanities for the Environment – A Manifesto for research and action’ (2015) by Holm,P et al, Where identifying ‘the drivers of change’  and how they relate to the ‘Great Acceleration’ is uncovered. This reflects further on a concept called “ The New Human Condition” and how the Media acts as a collaborator between information received then action followed through.

A summary of main points and arguments in each of the online media sites,, PLOS- Neglected tropical diseases and SABC news. These articles address the issues of Climate change affecting Sub Sahara Africa and specifically South Africa. A table below provides summaries of information regarding issues toward the environmental impact.


Article Who/What are the drivers of change? What is happening? What can be      done? How to get it done?


Changing enviromental conditions ·  Soil erosion

·  Wetland degradation

·  Insect infestation

·  poverty


·   Look at Western plans

·   Economical development

·  Did not mention
PLOS- Neglected tropical diseases



·  Climate change effecting soil

·  Higher temperatures allows spread of air bourne diseases

·  Many diseases occurring

·  Poverty ( lack of working class sick)

·  Agriculture failing

·  Cost of living increases

·   Did not           mention ·  Did not mention
SABC news


·  Temperature increase

·  Lack of water (drought)


·  Effecting oceans (fishing)

·  Agriculture struggling

·  Disease rising (malaria)

·   Raise awareness

·   Mindful to environment

·   recycle

·  Join a Green peace group

Figure 1: Table showing Summary of Online Articles.


Overview of Climate change affecting Africa

Warmer temperatures and altered rainfall patterns could create new habits for disease carrying organisms. This climate change could result in over 180 million deaths in just the Sub Saharan Africa alone.( Hotez, 2010) Due to the extensive climate change, other fundamental challenges are brought up, including : ‘soil erosion, wetland degradation, insect infestation and deforestation’ (Daniel,2015). The rate at which potential remedies are brought forward are minimal as these environmental problems hinder us due to the lack of understanding their cause and counteraction. (Daniel,2015)

Africa is rich in biodiversity, holding more than 50000 plants, 1500 birds species and over 1000 mammal species (Mzukisi,2015), posing a larger threat on the environment if such a large portion of the eco-system becomes extinct.


Who are the drivers of change?

In the article, ‘Humanities for the Environment – A Manifesto for research and action’, it states that, ‘Human preferences, practices and actions are the drivers of change’ (Holm 2015:980), These interactions have been the global environmental change throughout the  21st century, varying from human motivations , values and choices. These drivers of change may not necessarily result in positive action as they also become the cause of ‘out cycled weather patterns, ocean acid and many other environmental problems.’ (Holm 2015:982)

Drivers of change can be a number of different impacts as seen in the three articles about Climate change (Fig1), starting as the basis to promote awareness of the affects of the climate, and how it changes the future of the natural and urban environment. The three articles are similar in that “Increasing Temperature”, and “altered climate conditions”, inspires conservation about the well being of others but also linking to infrastructure issues and basic human rights. Acting, ‘ highly irresponsible towards environmental challenges’ are the reasons temperature has risen and the yield of crops is unsuitable.(Daniel,2015) The drivers of change are related directly to the ‘technological advances, powers and consumption.’ (Holm 2015:980) Relating to “The great acceleration”, taking into account of how the “Technological advances, powers and consumptions” over the last 70 years and how they become  a  means of development that have shaped the way of living through the  advancements and change. (Holm 2015:980) This exploitation of natural  resources is the reason some areas are in greater threat than others.


“The New Human Condition”

Through the online articles Holms’  concept of the “New Human Condition” becomes apparent, referring to the way one chooses to respond to on a smaller scale when  coping with the situation, consequence and responsibility of ‘ being a driver in planetary change.’ (Holm 2015:983). All the articles’ language depicts on how the crisis of climate change is, “grim” and “problematic” (Daniel,2015) however, the media thrives off negative broadcasting, and our “pending doom”, rather than positive, “action and amelioration”, which is seen in a more naïve light. In both and PLOS, no solutions are given to over come the issues faced, enforcing this idea of concern. Holm states that “alarmism and Denial”, work together, as some cry wolf and others deny the footprint. The reader becomes aware that 180 million people could die (Hotez, 2010) but the absence of solution creates doubt and inability to follow through. The repetition of negativity throughout the articles with no positive re-enforces , creating a sense of denial, lessening the effect on the issues and therefore diminishing the desire for action. (Holm 2015:984) I’ve found that even in the SABC news article where solutions are given, they are left summarized and in point form leaving the remainder of the article emphasizing  negative aspects of Agricultural issues, Ocean pollution and means of financial issues involving the government.


Solutions engaging with the business sector-addressing environmental concern.

The severity of the climate issue needs to be addressed as the result could lead to a serious issue in Africa as 180 million estimated deaths are anticipated.  (Hotez, 2010) The result of climate change is impacting on the rainfall, causing it to be unpredictable, lowering crop yield with a further ripple effect on the escalation in food prices, keeping to cycle of poverty and without solutions of sustainable living. (Mzukisi, 2015), Without solutions the issues will only get worse forcing prices to increase. Although none of the solutions given address any businesses and corporations besides the government, private businesses may be forced to help form strategies to continue running a successful business particularly labour work. Neglected tropical diseases(NTDS) are the most common affecting the poorest people in the Sub Saharan Africa, reaching close to 500million people (Hotez, 2010) these neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of chronic, disabling and disfiguring conditions occurring mainly in the setting of extreme poverty, yet still making its way through urban populations. (Hotez, 2010) some of the most common diseases are ‘soil-transmitted’, reaching a widespread of people from ranging ages. The affects of these diseases include that child development, pregnancy outcomes, and agricultural worker productivity- continuing the cycle of failed climate maintenance. Without external help some businesses may be out of work as a result of lands unable to be cultivated or/and a lack of labour.


Proposed solutions involving communities.

The proposed solutions in HopeProject.orgs  article form in some way a collaborative processes of research, stakeholder engagement and public participation as it offers plans involving African governments having a crucial role in supporting sustainable development as well as “guarding the environment from further damage.” (Hotez,2015)  Through setting the right investment policies, governments can provide the required infrastructure, education and other important services without compromising the health of the environment. This calls on other smaller communities and individual projects where  Africa’s environment is resilient and can likely support greater population levels and intensive agriculture. Governments must concentrate on rural regions, whereby they focus  on education, health and provide basic sanitation. (Hotez,2015) The government could assist with funding and entrust research to independent organisations to find ways to conserve more conveniently, with sustainable farming and improve health services. Communities could get involved by implementing outreach programs educating those around them with regards to the rising issues surrounding diseases, farmland, increased cost of living and potential death with reference to climate change. It is important to understand and communicate with the public and the academics, on bridging the gap to create and promote more insight on solutions and active participation.  One that furthers the knowledge of situation and therefore leads to better participation and solutions. Future generations to come will benefit from such collaborations. Active engagement creates more awareness and urges the government and local communities to take action and make a change.


Practical Solutions and public action.

The solutions from the media appear to be unclear-‘The media is instrumental in providing the public with environmental knowledge and increasing environmental awareness’, says (Grant & Lawhon,2014) becoming a useful indicator of established public perceptions, fitting the ideologies embedded within media itself. Being exposed to Media can, however with regards to environmental concerns, become South Africa’s instrument for public awareness on environmental issues. Examples of the and PLOS sites show the suggested solutions  but no clear outline is given, leaving no way for people to actively participate- thus creating a down play of the severity of the crisis of Climate change. Even though the article on SABC news gives outlined encouragement on “joining a green peace movement” and  how the target of development in Africa must shift from “simple economic development to eradicating poverty” ,to allow everyone to “assist in improving the economy”, to  protecting the environment (Daniel,2015) this does not necessarily lead to active participation.



This article has given a critical environmental humanities analysis of three online media articles regarding the status of Climate Change effect on the Sub-Saharan Africa, through the Online sites, Hope, PLOS- Neglected tropic Diseases and It has made reference to the article by Holm, P et al. 2015 “Humanities for the Environment — A Manifesto for Research and  Shelby Grant and Mary Lawhon in their article, ‘Reporting on rhinos: analysis of the newspaper coverage of rhino poaching’ (2014) to substantiate the argument referring to the two concepts of the “Great Acceleration” and the “New Human Condition”, as mentioned in Holms (2015) article. Expressing how Drivers of change are created giving people the opportunity to take action and proposing solutions.





Sources Consulted:


Daniel, H. 2015. Understanding the Environmental Challenges Facing Sub Saharan Africa. [O]. Available:

Accessed 26 March 2016.


Grant, S & Lawhon, M. 2014. Reporting on rhinos: analysis of the newspaper coverage of rhino poaching. Southern African Journal of Environmental Education 30:39-52.

Holm, P et al. 2015. Humanities for the Environment – A manifesto for research and action. Humanities 4:977-992.


Hotez, J. 2010. Neglected Tropical Diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa: Review of Their Prevalence, Distribution and Disease Burden . [O]. Available:

Accessed 27 March 2016.


Mzukisi, G. 2015. Extreme climate change causing food limitations. [O]. Available:

Accessed 27 March 2016.


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