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News release

At Africa Climate Week, Afrobarometer survey sheds light on the continent’s climate reality: increasing drought, low climate awareness, and call for urgent action

4 Sep 2023 Kenya
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News release

The Africa Climate Summit (ACS) kicked off on Monday in Nairobi, Kenya bringing together governments, businesses, international organisations, and civil society. Afrobarometer led an Action Hub event highlighting Africans’ views on climate change, including perceptions of worsening drought and an urgent need for climate action.  

ACS takes place two months ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, setting the stage for meaningful conversations around climate action. 

At Monday’s TEDx-style event, representatives from the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Nairobi, Afrobarometer’s core partner for East Africa, shared findings from Round 9 surveys in 36 African countries in 2021-2022, shedding light on Africans’ perceptions of climate change. Project Manager Sam Balongo revealed that citizens demand urgent government action on climate change: Majorities in all 36 countries want their government to take action now to limit climate change, even if it is costly, causes job losses, or takes a toll on the economy. In 14 countries, 80% or more of citizens who are aware of climate change share this view. 

The findings also show that only about half (52%) of citizens across 36 countries have heard of climate change. Awareness is as high as 80% in Seychelles, 74% in Malawi, 73% in Mauritius, and 70% in Gabon, but as low as 22% in Tunisia and 29% in Botswana. 

Fielding questions from the audience on climate-change awareness Balongo said, “The fact that only half of Africans are aware of this very important issue underscores the urgent need for enhanced education and decisive climate action.” 

Among citizens who are aware of climate change, most say it is making their lives worse. This perception is especially widespread in Madagascar (91%), Lesotho (88%), Mauritius (86%), Malawi (86%), and Benin (85%). 

On the worsening impact of climate change on citizens’ lives, Afrobarometer Assistant Project Manager Anne Okello noted that “about half of Africans say droughts have become more severe over the past 10 years, while one-third say the same about floods.” 

This year’s ACS is organised around four dynamic systems-based tracks, energy systems and industry; cities, urban and rural settlements, infrastructure and transport; Land, ocean, food, and water; and Societies, health, livelihoods, and economies.