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Beyond Crisis: Africa’s Innovations Defy Victim Narrative

At any global discussions on climate change, Africa often finds itself cast in the role of a victim, grappling with the impacts of a crisis it did little to cause. However, a recent visit to Kenya by fellows from the Constructive Institute shed light on a different perspective – one that challenges the prevailing negative narratives and positions Africa as a key player in climate solutions.

March 2024

At the Danish Royal Embassy, where conversations unfolded among esteemed speakers the resounding message was clear: it’s time to stop portraying Africa solely as a victim of climate change. Instead, we must highlight the continent’s potential for innovation, community resilience, and collaborative approaches in tackling this global challenge.

James Mwangi, Founder of CAP-A, emphasized Africa’s abundance of minerals and renewable energy sources. His insights emphasized the continent’s vast untapped resources, ripe for sustainable development initiatives that can drive economic growth while mitigating environmental degradation.

The executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme Inger Andersen echoed these sentiments, highlighting Kenya’s remarkable achievements in renewable energy, with 92 percent of its grid now powered by renewables. Community efforts for conservation, forests, and geothermal power exemplify the collaborative spirit driving positive change in the country.

Beyond the conference halls, our journey took us to communities affected by climate change. In Kibera slum, we met women crafting handmade goods to sustain their families despite facing the challenges of HIV. At Little Lions School, we witnessed how digital learning and art are empowering young children to address the multifaceted issues plaguing their slum.

Practical approach:

To counter the victim narrative, it’s imperative to elevate these stories in both local and international media landscapes. Practical headlines highlighting Africa’s contributions to climate solutions will shift perceptions and inspire action. By embracing constructive journalism, we can reshape the narrative, portraying Africa not as a passive victim but as a proactive leader in the fight against climate change.

Highlighting Innovation:

Africa is a hotbed of innovation, with countless examples of groundbreaking solutions to environmental challenges. By showcasing these innovations, we can challenge the perception of Africa as a passive victim of climate change. For instance, initiatives like Yna Kenya, which transforms agricultural waste into sustainable food packaging, demonstrate how African ingenuity is driving positive change.

Amplifying Community Resilience:

Communities across Africa are not just passive recipients of aid; they are active agents of change. From adaptive farming techniques to grassroots conservation efforts, local communities are leading the charge against climate change. By amplifying stories of resilience, we can empower communities and inspire others to take action. The women of Kibera, crafting handmade goods to sustain their families despite facing the challenges of HIV, exemplify the resilience and strength inherent in African communities.

Emphasizing Collaborative Approaches:

Climate change knows no borders, and neither should our response to it. Collaborative approaches that bring together governments, NGOs, businesses, and communities are essential for tackling this global challenge. Kenya’s success in renewable energy, driven by collaborative efforts between government and private sectors, serves as a shining example of what can be achieved through cooperation. 

Focus on progress and solutions:

Constructive Journalism offers a powerful framework for reframing narratives about Africa. Instead of focusing solely on problems and crises, constructive journalism seeks to highlight solutions and progress. By adopting a solutions-oriented approach, journalists can provide a more balanced and nuanced portrayal of Africa’s efforts to combat climate change and other social economic and political concerns.

Through this approach news media will challenge negative narratives and embrace Africa’s role as a beacon of hope in the emerging global challenges.

Mactilda Mbenywe

Climate Explorer 2024