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Key findings
  • More than half of Nigerians say droughts (51%) and floods (56%) have become less severe over the past 10 years.
  • Only three in 10 adults (30%) have heard of climate change. Among those who are aware of climate change: o Two-thirds (66%) say it is making life in Nigeria worse. o Seven in 10 (69%) believe that ordinary citizens can help curb climate change. o Similarly, 71% want the government to take immediate action to limit climate change, even if it is expensive, causes job losses, or takes a toll on the economy. o Most Nigerians (76%) assign primary responsibility for addressing climate change to their government. o Large majorities say the fight against climate change requires “a lot more” effort from the government (85%), business and industry (75%), developed countries (73%), and citizens (58%).
  • Six in 10 citizens (61%) say the government is doing a poor job of addressing climate change.

After devastating floods last year killed more than 600 Nigerians and displaced hundreds of thousands, scientists made headlines with their finding that the disaster was made “80 times more likely” by climate change (Kabukuru, 2022; VoA, 2022; BBC, 2022). And while such a precise estimate may be open to debate, few scientists doubt that climate change will continue to put Nigerians’ livelihoods and lives at ever-increasing risk. 

Frequent flooding joins drought, increasing temperatures, and rising sea levels among the climate-change threats the country faces, with cascading consequences that include diminished crop yields, reduced livestock production, food shortages, income loss, infrastructure damage, and a mounting burden of disease, such as an upsurge in malaria cases (Daily Trust, 2022; World Bank, 2021; Guardian, 2021).  

The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (2022) ranking of Nigeria in 154th place out of 185 countries reflects high vulnerability to climate change and extremely low readiness – 14th-worst in the world – 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 its National Climate Change Policy for Nigeria 2021-2030 (Federal Ministry of Environment, 2021). Another milestone was former President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing of the Climate Change Act in 2021, providing a legal framework for the country’s climate objectives (PwC Nigeria, 2022; Cable, 2021).  

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

Findings show that a majority of Nigerians remain unfamiliar with the concept of climate change. Among those who are aware, most say it is making life worse. While citizens believe they can play a role in limiting climate change, most say the government must take the lead, with support from the private sector and more developed countries. 

Sunday Duntoye

Sunday is the data manager for NOI Polls

Chukwudebe Nwanze

Chukwudebe Nwanze is a senior research associate at NOIPolls

Raphael Mbaegbu

Raphael is a project manager for NOI Polls