West Africa

Audio Atlas / October 2020

The Sahel is a geographically and politically significant region in West Africa spanning 12 countries including Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania. The Sahel comprises some of the world's poorest and most fragile states, and is regarded as one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change.

A disturbing fact about climate change is that some of the least polluting countries are the most impacted, and also least equipped to deal with its outcomes. The Sahel region emits less than 3% of the amount of greenhouse gas that the United States emits, but temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than the global average. This leads to scarcity of resources in a region that is already prone to political and social turmoil.

Irregular rainfall and increased evaporation cause repeated crop failures and the disappearance of vegetation for livestock grazing.  As a result, countless livelihoods are destroyed and many of them migrate to cities or to other countries in Africa and beyond.  Some even feel compelled to take refuge in organized crime, which often turns into terrorism.

No African country has declared a climate emergency to date and too few (if any) countries are taking climate action.  On the contrary, African countries are destroying their ecosystem instead of protecting it, which increasingly aggravates the danger. It is crucial that those in positions of power act now, because the climate crisis does not wait, does not delay and it hits us, Africans in the Sahel, hard.

You can help by signing this open letter , care of Fridays For Future activist Fousseny Traoré from Mali, calling on the African leader and the UN Secretary General's Special Advisor on Africa to adapt measures to mitigate the destructive nature of the climate crisis in this vulnerable area!

Audio Atlas / West African Griots and Legends: A Listener’s Guide

This playlist combines tracks by West African griots alongside music from West African artists who have become worldwide stars. A griot, commonly known as a jeli, is a West African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet, or musician who is a repository of oral tradition and is often seen as a leader due to their position in the community.  This playlist is a tiny slice of music from a huge continent rich with diverse musical traditions, but it’s a great starting point due to the significance of the region and infectiousness of the grooves.

To learn more about the relationship between climate change and conflict in West Africa, click here.