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Key findings
  • More than half (55%) of Tanzanians say droughts have become more severe over the past 10 years, while only 10% say the same about floods.
  • Only about one-third (32%) of Tanzanians say they have heard of climate change. o Awareness of climate change is higher among urban residents and men than among rural residents and women, and increases sharply with respondents’ education level.
  • Among Tanzanians who are aware of climate change: o Eight in 10 (81%) say it is making life worse, including 51% who say “much worse.” o Almost nine in 10 believe that ordinary citizens can help curb climate change (86%) and that the government should take immediate action to limit climate change (86%), even if it is expensive, causes job losses, or takes a toll on the economy. o Almost all say stakeholders must do more to fight climate change. Large majorities call for “a lot more” effort on the part of the government (88%), business and industry (87%), developed countries (81%), and ordinary citizens (78%).
  • While calling for greater efforts, about two-thirds (65%) of Tanzanians approve of the government’s performance to date on addressing climate change.

“The stakes are high,” Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan (2023) told the Africa Climate Summit in Kenya this week, “and actions have to take place not tomorrow but today, and literally now.” 

The president’s voice joins those of other African leaders, development partners, business leaders, and activists in calling for action against climate change, an existential threat for people throughout the world. One action she proposed is the establishment of an Africa specific fund to address the climate crisis on the continent (allAfrica, 2023). 

In Tanzania, climate change is causing higher temperatures, rising sea levels, and more frequent and severe droughts and floods, leading to increased food insecurity. The country is a major food producer, with an agriculture sector that employs more than 75% of the workforce, as well as a top tourism destination – both sectors that are highly vulnerable to changes in climate (International Monetary Fund, 2023; USAID, 2018; World Bank, 2021;  Melchioly, 2021; Citizen News, 2022). 

The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (2022) ranks Tanzania 145th out of 185 countries, reflecting high vulnerability to climate change and low readiness to confront the threat. 

In addition to committing to regional and global agreements such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the government has outlined strategies and plans to strengthen the country’s climate resilience in the Tanzania National Climate Change Response Strategy 2021-26 and the Third National Development Plan, among others (United Republic of Tanzania, 2021a, b). 

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 questionnaire to explore Tanzanians’ experiences and perceptions of climate change. 

Survey findings show that only one-third of Tanzanians say they have heard of climate change. Among those who are aware of climate change, a majority say it is making life worse in their country. Most think the government is doing a good job of trying to limit climate change, but they see addressing this threat as a collective responsibility and overwhelmingly call for greater engagement on the issue by business and industry, developed nations, and ordinary citizens as well as the government. 

Derick Msafiri

Derick Msafiri is an intern for REPOA, the Afrobarometer national <br /> partner in Tanzania.