October 29th, 2012
10:54 AM ET

Why is Western media ignoring Nigeria flooding?

By John Campbell, CFR

Editor's note: John Campbell is a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This entry of Africa in Transition originally appeared here. The views expressed are his own.

It baffles me that the Western media is paying so little attention to the flooding in Nigeria. There are dramatic aerial photographs of the flooding in the Delta, and affected areas spread as far afield as Kano and Kogi states in northern and central Nigeria.

Over a million people have been displaced. In the Delta alone, tens of thousands have been moved into camps that are ill-equipped to receive them.  Crop fields and fisheries in their thousands of hectares are completely flooded and destroyed. Local food shortages seem inevitable, although President Goodluck Jonathan is confident existing grain stores will be sufficient. In overcrowded camps with poor sanitation, the spread of infectious disease also seems inevitable. Deaths – direct and indirect – from flooding in Nigeria this season, may exceed the total associated with Boko Haram.

U.N. humanitarian agencies often sound the alarm about impending humanitarian crises, as they have done in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. For example, the World Health Organization’s Africa Regional Director, Luis Gomes Sambo, on October 25, called attention to the Sahel’s need for international help to combat Neglected Tropical Diseases that have spread because of flooding in that region.

But these UN agencies are, by and large, not present in the Niger Delta. Other international NGOs, including Oxfam and the Red Cross and Red Crescent, are present, but their relative quiet is hard to understand. The Nigerian federal government in Abuja does not seem to be asking for the international assistance it clearly needs.

Meanwhile, the Western media is, almost universally, giving the flooding stories a pass. Is it a case of seeing the floods as yet another dreary story out of Africa, and Nigeria in particular, that allows news agencies to draw the  conclusion that their readership would have only a limited interest?

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Better Question Is

    A better question is: Why is Nigeria ignoring flooding in Nigeria? Why should the Media and the West always bail you out when you all hate the West? Sink or Swim.

    October 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • alexdt

      Iraq hated the west too, Libya hated the west... I dont think that is how the west works... do you?

      October 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Onyeka

      Ignorance is a disease. Nigerians DO NOT HAVE THE WEST.

      October 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
      • Hahahahahahahahaha

        No really! Hahahahahahahahahaha

        October 30, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Onyeka

      Ignorance is a disease. Nigerians DO NOT HATE THE WEST.

      October 29, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
      • Hahahahahahahahaha

        EPIC Fail!!!!!!!!!!! Hahahahahahahhaaha

        October 30, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  2. Launch The Polaris

    Who has time to discuss Nigeria? Did you not see last week's episode of Honey Boo Boo?!?

    October 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  3. 100 % ETHIO

    The situations in Nigeria, are already screwed in the media.
    Things got worse, when good luck turned over into bad luck.

    Previously, those who called themselves, professional African-American or Nigerian-American, were cried at the White House, to benefit the Slavery departure places: Nigeria, Ghana, South-Africa,... then, the Western Countries, discovered Oil and other natural resources, to benefited them. Soon after the Oil started refined, Nigerian Government got corrupted and some people in Nigeria started operating black-market.

    Now, the worst got worst, they started killing each other. Suicide bombs are on their front pages.

    October 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  4. j. von hettlingen

    Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan has many headaches. They have been increased by one problem, which is peculiarly Nigerian – the inability to guarantee that a larger part of the $120m, which he has allocated for flood relief will not end up in the foreign accounts of officials and that the subsequent food imports will indeed be delivered in Nigeria after payment to the importers.

    October 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Onyeka

      You have a point. Corruption is a big problem in Nigeria.

      October 29, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  5. JAL

    Thank you Fareed.

    October 29, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  6. deep blue

    I had not heard about this at all. I need to start reading BBC and Al Jazeera more frequently. In general, we Americans think the world revolves around us and we don't care about the rest of world. The US media had to report that Governor Romney sneezed, and President Obama forgot to say God Bless you, or stuff about as important. No time for humanitarian crises that don't involve the US.

    October 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  7. Delex.

    Many thanks to u all. At least u rmembered to make mention of Nigeria for once on the international media. The unnoticed giant of Africa.

    November 1, 2012 at 2:12 am |
  8. London


    November 3, 2012 at 6:40 am |
  9. London

    When you look around the world you can see the good bad wicked God bless Africa when our Master finish with us

    November 3, 2012 at 6:48 am |
  10. Ricky Julien Sr.

    We are praying for the whole of Africa. I would like to help, but I do not have a contact in Nigeria. I know there is widespread corruption everywhere, but aid needs to flow. I have written our President, my congressional leader, and state representatives. I hope aid finds you well. God speed!

    November 12, 2012 at 1:44 am |

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