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AD227: Only one in three Tanzanians aware of climate change

Stephen Mwombela and Thadeus Mboghoina 7 Aug 2018 Tanzania
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Key findings
  • A majority (52%) of Tanzanians say that climate conditions for agricultural production in the country are “worse” or “much worse” compared to 10 years ago. About the same proportion (51%) say droughts have become “somewhat more severe” or “much more severe.”
  • Flooding, however, has decreased in severity, according to eight in 10 respondents (81%).
  • Only one in three Tanzanians (32%) say they have heard of climate change. Awareness of climate change is particularly low among rural, less-educated, and female respondents.
  • Among those who have heard of climate change, most attribute it to human activity (71%), affirm that it is making life in Tanzania worse (84%) and needs to be stopped (85%), and believe that ordinary citizens can do at least “a little bit” (68%) to help stop it.

According to the Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (2018), climate change is “arguably the most important emerging issue for the world.” The impacts of climate change are particularly devastating to the poor in developing countries (National Environment Management Council, 2007), who often lack the means to mitigate and recover from climate-induced shocks and stresses such as flooding and drought. Rural inhabitants, who are largely dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, suffer from decreased availability of water due to changes in rainfall patterns and/or increased temperatures (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2014; Drakenberg, Ek, & Wallin Fernqvist, 2016).

In Tanzania, recurring drought has already had negative effects on the agriculture, water, and energy sectors, and continuing climate change will have disastrous implications for food security, among other issues (Irish Aid, 2016; Tanzania Natural Resource Forum, 2018; Arndt, Farmer, Strzepek, & Thurlow, 2012). Irish Aid (2016) has estimated that more than 70% of all natural disasters in Tanzania are related to climate change.

As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, the government of Tanzania has taken steps to address climate change, including the development of a National Climate Change Strategy (United Republic of Tanzania Vice President’s Office, 2012). Alongside its ambition to transform Tanzania into an industrialized middle-income economy, the government has emphasized environmental sustainability as a foundation of its development policy (High Level Symposium on Climate Change, Environment and the National Economy, 2018).

But despite alarming projections and the government’s actions, many Tanzanians have limited knowledge about climate change. Results of the most recent Afrobarometer survey show that while a majority of Tanzanians think that climatic conditions for agricultural production have gotten worse over the past decade, only one in three citizens have heard of climate change.

Stephen Mwombela

Stephen Mwombela is the co-national investigator for Tanzania.

Thadeus Mboghoina

Thadeus Mboghoina is an assistant researcher for REPOA in Dar es Salaam