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Nowhere to run: the devastating effects of the climate crisis on Africa

Find out more about how the climate crisis is affecting people living in Africa and how you can pray for them and COP26.

Written by Agnes McGrane | 22 Oct 2021

Credit: David Mutua/Tearfund

People living in poverty have done the least to cause the climate crisis, yet they are the ones paying the highest price. They can’t wait any longer for action to be taken. Here, we share how the climate crisis is affecting many people across Africa, and how you can pray for them and the upcoming UN Climate Conference, COP26, which will be hosted in Glasgow.

Climate change has affected weather patterns, leading to long periods of drought in some places and extreme floods in others. Both can ruin harvests. In Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, and Niger, where the majority of people rely on growing crops for both food and income, this is having a devastating impact.

More people are going hungry, and cases of malnutrition are rising. Many parents can no longer afford to send their children to school.

‘If they can’t go to school we will have a generation of children who can’t read or write,’ says Idzai Murimba, who is part of our team in Zimbabwe. ‘We need global efforts to address climate change.’

Hannah, from Zimbabwe, often has to survive on a handful of maize a day. Credit: David Mutua/Tearfund

Women and girls at risk

The impact of the climate crisis is also putting women and girls at increased risk of abuse.

‘The number of child marriages increases in years of drought,’ says Idzai. ‘When families are desperate, they can get some money for the daughter, and it’s one less person to feed.

‘We also see an increase in violence against women, especially domestic abuse, as the stress of the situation puts pressure on relationships.’


In Burkina Faso, more than 1 million people have left their communities because the land has become unfarmable. They are desperate to find somewhere to resettle, but it’s getting even harder to find a suitable place to live.

‘People don’t know where to run to,’ says Gaston Slanwa, who oversees Tearfund’s work in Burkina Faso and Niger. In both of these countries, food shortages have become a major problem.

‘We call on you to pray for us. Please pray that vulnerable communities will become resilient to climate change.’
 - Gaston Slanwa, Country Director for Burkina Faso and Niger

Meanwhile, in Mozambique, the climate crisis has led to an increase in deadly cyclones and storms, along with droughts and flooding.

‘Climate change is creating a lot of poverty in Mozambique,’ says Edgar Jone, who oversees Tearfund’s work in the country. ‘Sometimes people lose everything. The cyclones destroy everything and we have to start from zero.’

People wait patiently during a food distribution after Cyclone Idai ravaged Mozambique. Credit: David Mutua/Tearfund

What can we do?

Edgar still believes that there is hope, and that Christians and churches have a key role to play in taking action to tackle the climate crisis.

‘If we take action to care for creation, we can save a lot of lives’ he says. ‘Please pray for our people, for God’s protection over their lives.’

At COP26, governments from around the world will come together to make plans for tackling the climate crisis. We pray this will include bold new commitments and action to protect the environment and support people most affected by this crisis.

The decisions made will have consequences for everyone, especially the world’s most vulnerable communities. Please join us in praying at this crucial time.

Pray with us

Across Africa, the climate crisis has disrupted people’s everyday lives. Over the next few days, take some time to pray for the COP26 conference while doing everyday household tasks. Allow the Holy Spirit to disrupt your routines as we pray for people whose whole lives are being turned upside down.

When cooking or preparing a meal...

Pray for provision for those who can no longer grow crops or feed their families. Ask that world leaders will choose people and caring for the planet over profits.

When cleaning your home or gardening...

Lift up those who have had to leave their homes due to the effects of the climate crisis. Pray that world leaders will choose to support the poorest people and protect them and God’s creation from further harm.

Written by

Written by  Agnes McGrane

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