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The most overlooked media stories of 2023

Climate-fueled weather has disrupted life on all levels in Zimbabwe. Photo: Lucy Beck/CARE

Climate-fueled weather has disrupted life on all levels in Zimbabwe. Photo: Lucy Beck/CARE

It's not a 24-hour news cycle anymore. It's a 1,440-minute news cycle — or even, maybe, a 86,400-second news cycle. And it can feel like this multi-billion-dollar competition for your human attention is a zero-sum game.

It can seem like if you pay attention to the new iPhone, then you’re neglecting the latest crisis.

Like energy or food, our attention can feel like a finite resource, used up daily by celebrity gossip, disinformation, and mindless distraction, all before we even get a chance to glimpse what might be going on outside the algorithmic long-tail of the Eras Tour or excerpts from Prince Harry’s memoir.

That’s why, for the past eight years, CARE has started off each new year with its report on the humanitarian crises getting the least media attention around the world.

This year, in collaboration with media monitoring service Meltwater, CARE looked at over five million online articles from January to September 2023, identifying countries where conflict, war, or natural disasters affected over a million people.

The team used data from ACAPS, Reliefweb, and CARE itself, and then ranked the stories by media visibility.

The 2023 Breaking the Silence report is multilingual in scope, considering articles in Arabic, English, French, German, and Spanish. It’s a trend analysis, an insight into how the digital age has shaped our perception of suffering and need across the globe.

The goal, as it is every year, isn’t to make anyone regret the time they’ve spent on Barbie, Taylor Swift, or whatever new technology just hit the market, but to move the conversations with aid organizations, media, policymakers, and affected communities forward and to amplify the voices of those in dire need.

Humanitarian crises, in particular, can be mitigated or even prevented through early action. But action requires attention. While you can read the full report here and learn about all 10 of the crises in detail, below are four stories that show where further support for CARE’s work is making a particular, urgent impact.


In Zambia, CARE supports women like Febbie in savings groups and shows them new farming methods that help them adapt to the consequences of the climate crisis. Photo: Peter Caton/CARE

2023 was the hottest year in recorded history. But, as the meme goes, it’s likely just the hottest year on record “so far.”

Zambia, second on the Breaking the Silence list, is currently experiencing some of the worst effects of the rapidly accelerating climate crisis — with floods followed by extreme temperatures and months of drought.

As a result, 1.35 million people are going hungry, and more than 60 percent of the population live on less than $2.06/day.

Chikwe Mbweeda, CARE Country Director in Zambia, says: “We at CARE are concerned about the impact of floods and other frequent climate disasters on rural communities, and especially on women and girls.

“We see how disproportionately affected they are given the critical roles they play in agriculture and in feeding families. We therefore make sure to involve them in the design and at all stages of our programs.”

To reduce Zambia’s vulnerability to climate change, CARE’s programs are focussing on locally-led adaptation and resilience. Across Zambia, CARE has worked with local farmers, community organizers, and nutrition experts to help protect the millions of poor and marginalized people at risk of losing their livelihoods — and lives — from climate change.

Learn more about CARE’s climate work, and how you can help, here:


A women-led community meeting in Burundi. Photo: CARE International

In Burundi, as it is in many places around the world, without food, there is no future. Today in Burundi, less food is available, and the available food is less accessible. And the accessible food is not affordable. CARE’s decades of work on hunger has shown that access to food is about gender, the consequences falling on women who often eat last and least in times of crisis.

Burundi has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. Half of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished. 5.6 million children live in poverty and suffer from hunger.

Between June and September 2023, an estimated 2.3 million people, almost 17 percent of the population, were reported to be suffering from severe food insecurity.

Inflation has caused prices for basic food items to rise by 40 percent.

In response to this crisis, CARE has launched a $250 million comprehensive response to the global hunger crisis that bridges the full spectrum of food and nutrition insecurity, from emergency response and treatment for severe malnutrition, to transition to short-term recovery and building longer-term plans and systems that prepare families to withstand future shocks.

CARE and its partners are working to save lives now — through immediate, vital food supplies and cash vouchers, access to job opportunities, and prevention of life-threatening malnutrition, as well as growing food and resilience through more efficient farming practices, fertilizer alternatives, and safer food storage we will ensure there is a next harvest.

Learn more about CARE’s work to stop the global hunger crisis https://www.care.org/hunger/


The “red zone” of Mauritania. Photo: Daniel Born/Unsplash

Mauritania is one of the poorest countries in the world, characterized by exceptionally dry weather and a lack of rainfall. But in 2023 and 2022, climate-fueled heavy rainfall caused severe flooding, massively disrupting life there. People died, crops were destroyed, and livestock drowned.

In 2023, around 1.1 million people were dependent on humanitarian aid. Right now, more than 500,000 people do not have enough to eat and around 22 percent – almost one in four – live in poverty. Child labor affects 12.5 percent of children between the ages of five and 14 years.

In these dire circumstances, child marriage often becomes endemic. In Mauritania, some 37 percent of girls are married before the age of 18. Many women die because they become pregnant too young.

CARE’s Tipping Point initiative identifies the root causes of child, early, and forced marriage and works to facilitate innovative strategies that can help create alternative paths for adolescent girls. The project also seeks to influence the way policymakers, donors, researchers, and civil society approach the issue of child marriage, specifically to steer the global discourse beyond short-term solutions.

Learn more at the Tipping Point website.


18-year-old Rachel lives with her two-year-old daughter Shumi in the drought-stricken Zaka region of Zimbabwe. Photo: CARE International

In Zimbabwe, there are often long periods of drought, followed by heavy rains that cause severe flooding.

Since 70 percent of the population depends on rain-fed agriculture, when crops are heavily damaged or destroyed by extreme weather it hits everyone. Nearly half of the country’s 16 million people are affected by extreme poverty. 19 percent of people in rural areas already have too little to eat, and nearly 27 percent of children have stunted growth

In all countries on the list, there are significant differences between men and women. Of course, men and boys also suffer dramatically from violence, hunger or displacement and are equally entitled to help. For women, the situation is often even more difficult because patriarchal norms and structural discrimination.

When there is a lack of food, mothers eat less to feed their children. Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers are particularly at risk.

In many countries, women have limited rights in terms of their freedom of movement, economic activities such as land ownership or political participation. Their needs are often not heard. This is compounded by physical, gender-based violence. For example, increased food insecurity in a region often goes hand-in-hand with an increase in violence against women.

For over two decades, CARE has been addressing the root causes driving gender-based violence (GBV) and supporting survivors. CARE’s Vision 2030 Strategy for a shared future puts forward a goal that 50 million people of all genders experience greater gender equality — including eliminating GBV, and increasing women and girls’ voice, leadership, and education.

Learn more about CARE’s work in Zimbabwe here.

How you can help by paying better attention

Children in an internally displaced persons camp in Zambia. Photo: Sarah Easter/CARE

The Breaking the Silence report is not just a collection of statistics; it’s an urgent plea to acknowledge and act upon the under-reported catastrophes that continue to devastate millions.

CARE’s report is a reminder that the human cost of these crises requires more than transient headlines — it demands sustained attention and action.

Of course, human suffering does not fit into any ranking. The 10 crises that did not make the headlines affect millions of people and yet are barely heard. CARE’s report is not an indictment. Instead, it is an invitation to everyone to find out more about these crises, to share the information and to get involved. Humanitarian crises can be mitigated or even prevented through early action. But, first, this requires paying attention.

In 2024, CARE News is dedicated to brining you the most up-to-date information on what is going on around the world, and what you can do to help. Follow CARE Stories on Google News, on CARE’s social channels, or sign up for our newsletter.

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