BBC Misreporting on Famine in Africa

The BBC report “Why are there still famines?”, 21st February 2017, asks why there are still famines and reports on war, crop failure and consequent famines, but nowhere mentions population demographics and the massive unsustainable population growth in the countries mentioned. BBC Africa News

The BBC has subliminally recognised the root cause with its headline picture of four adult females holding four babies in their arms. Stating that ‘the basic cause of the famine is conflict‘ ignores the fact that over half of South Sudan’s population is under the age of 20, with population growth of close to 3% per year, and an average of five births per woman. Any country with an average 5 births per family is inherently unstable. It is a basic fundamental truth that a country with population growth like this will inevitably have serious and undesirable manifestations at some point.

This is the cause of the crisis, with war which is caused ultimately by unstable age demographics and a lack of resources, together with impacts from climate change, infrastructure and inadequate government.

The piece also mentions Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Nigeria’s population has increased dangerously for decades due to very high birth rates. Population increase is 2.5% annually, with a current population of 190 million, compared to only 45 million in 1960. Nigeria’s population is expected to increase by another 100 million in the next 20 years which will lead to severe resource depletion and may result in more famine, poverty and quite possibly war and genocide. The median age in Nigeria is 18, so rapid population increase is built-in for the coming decades unless further investment and commitment is made in family planning availability and use.

Somalia’s population has more than trebled from 3 million in 1960 to over 10.5 million today, with a median age of under 17. Yemen’s population has quadrupled since 1960.

And yet the BBC’s article questions why these wars and famines are happening in the 21st century without once mentioning population.This failure on the part of the BBC is not unique to the BBC. It is widespread throughout the media, governments and even charities whose work is addressing poverty. This amounts to a very significant failure to meet their responsibilities and should be addressed immediately.

Tremendous amounts of work is being done around the world to aid and assist countries and communities with development worldwide, but the root cause is being almost universally ignored. This must change.

There are plenty of organisations who do recognise the underlying changes necessary for real improvement, from large organisations such as the Gates Foundation, to smaller less well known charities, such as CHASE Africa, who do incredible work for communities in Kenya, and the UK charity Population Matters.

But until the issue of population is once again recognised as the underlying cause of so many of today’s crises, as it was in the 1960s and 70s, the world will continue to suffer and articles such as the one from the BBC will not go away.


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