14 December 2011

HoA Famine Top News Story in 2011?

TIME has rolled out its top 10 and top 100 lists on a range of topics from Top 10 Crime Duos to the Top 10 Twitter Controversies.  A slightly more serious category is the Top 10 World-News Stories.  Naturally, number one is Arab Spring and it is followed by the deaths of Gaddhafi and Bin Ladden as well as the disaster in Japan.

Coming in at number 7 is the Famine in the Horn of Africa.  Surely it is a great thing that the crisis is being recognized as an important news event in 2011, but the reporting on it does not seem to reflect the ranking.  Ironically, the way that TIME characterizes the crisis and the the picture it uses captures how the story of the crisis has been told since July.

Being that it can so easily be summarized in a single paragraph, it is no surprise that the stories have died down. As seen below, the news reports rose sharply around the official famine declaration, but fell quickly within a few months.

The famine persists, but the appetite to report more stories has waned.  New reports project the famine continuing into the middle of next year and there is good reason to be concerned about a famine occurring in the Sahel region of West Africa.  If a famine does take place, there is a good chance that the reporting trend will reflect that of the Horn of Africa.

USAID and groups like ONE are trying to fill the present void through their advocacy campaigns, but seem to have yet to gain any significant traction.  That likely has less to do with their efforts than it has to do with the HoA being off the public radar.  The lack of news reports keeps it off the front page which then leads to a missing connection when a FWD commercial is seen on TV (saw them used this weekend when watching On Demand television).

Being listed as one of the top stories of the year is great to see, but the reporting needs to catch up to the other 9 included in the list.