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Key findings
  • Eight in 10 Cabo Verdeans (80%) say droughts have become more severe over the past 10 years, up from 73% in 2017. Almost half (47%) say the same about floods, more than twice as many as in 2017.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of Cabo Verdeans say they have heard of climate change. Among those who are aware of climate change: o An overwhelming majority (81%) say it is making life in Cabo Verde worse. o Large majorities believe that ordinary citizens can help curb climate change (72%) and that their government needs to take immediate climate action, even at considerable economic cost (64%). o Most assign the primary responsibility for combating climate change to developed countries (32%), the government (29%), or ordinary citizens (23%). o Large majorities say “a lot more” action to limit climate change is needed from developed countries (78%), the government (77%), and business and industry (68%).
  • Only one-third (34%) of all survey respondents say the government is doing a good job of addressing climate change.

As a small island developing state in the Sahelian arid belt, Cabo Verde is “on the frontlines of the existential crisis generated by climate disruptions,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said during a visit in January (Africanews, 2023). Prolonged drought, intensifying storms and flash floods, rising temperatures and sea levels, and other manifestations of climate change threaten the archipelago’s food security, fisheries and other livelihoods, and rich biodiversity (World Bank, 2021, 2022; Floodlist, 2020; African Economic Outlook, 2023; Varela, Romeiras, & Luís, 2022; Vieira, 2023; Monteiro et al., 2020; World Food Programme, 2022). 

Cabo Verde ranks as the 98th most vulnerable country in the world to climate change and 76th out of 192 countries in readiness to tackle the threat (ND-GAIN, 2021).  

The government and international partners have prioritised proactivity and economic resilience to navigate climate shocks, outlined in a National Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2022-2030 (Ministério da Agricultura e Ambiente, 2021; World Economic Forum, 2022; World Bank, 2022). Among its commitments is an emissions-reduction target of 18% below business as usual by 2030, to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050. 

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

Findings show that a growing number of citizens report worsening drought and flooding.  Among those who have heard of climate change, most say it is worsening living conditions. Overwhelming majorities say greater efforts are needed from developed countries, the Cabo Verdean government, business and industry, and ordinary citizens to protect the country from the climate threat. 

Margaret Eduonoo

Margaret Eduonoo is a PhD student and graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Political Science, University of Florida.