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Key findings
  • More than half (56%) of Ugandans have heard of climate change. Among those who are aware of climate change:
  • More than eight in 10 (84%) say it is making life in Uganda worse.
  • More than three-fourths (78%) believe that ordinary citizens can help curb climate change (71%).
  • Eight in 10 (80%) 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.
  • Only small minorities are satisfied with efforts by the government (4%), business and industry (5%), ordinary citizens (9%), and developed countries (11%) to fight climate change.
  • Ugandans assign primary responsibility for limiting climate change to the government (46%) and to ordinary citizens (43%).

Like many countries around the world, Uganda is experiencing significant impacts of climate change. Weather patterns are changing, and water levels in several water bodies are dropping. Extreme weather events such as floods, landslides, and prolonged drought are becoming more frequent in the country, threatening people’s livelihoods (Irish Aid, 2016).

Landslides in the Busigu sub-region have reportedly killed at least 1,000 people over the past decade and left thousands of families displaced and homeless (Monitor, 2019). Less than a month ago, floods in the Eastern region, triggered by heavy rainfall, claimed the lives of at least 30 people, left 400,000 without access to clean water, and destroyed more than 2,000 hectares of crops (Relief Web, 2022; Guardian, 2022).

More than 900 people have died of hunger this year in the Karamoja sub-region of northeastern Uganda, mostly as a result of prolonged drought. In this region, eight in every 10 households are food-insecure, putting about 23,000 children at high risk of severe acute malnutrition (Monitor, 2022).

Uganda’s economy is heavily reliant on agriculture, making the country highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In Afrobarometer’s 2016/2018 surveys, 85% of Ugandans – more than in any of the other 33 countries that were surveyed – said climate conditions for agricultural production in their area had gotten worse over the previous decade (Selormey, Dome, Osse, & Logan, 2019).

According to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (2021), Uganda ranks as the 13th- most-vulnerable country in the world to climate change and 160th out of 192 nations in readiness to confront the threat.

The government of Uganda has committed itself to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, and has integrated climate- change interventions in its Vision 2040 and five-year National Development Plan (Ministry of Water and Environment, 2015; Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, 2018). But building climate resilience will require concerted efforts from all stakeholders as well as substantial funding (Busby, Smith, White, & Strange, 2012).

Findings from the most recent Afrobarometer survey show that Ugandans who are aware of climate change are solidly behind government action to address the crisis, even at significant economic cost. They see addressing climate change as a collective responsibility, and they want greater engagement on the issue by the government, business and industry, developed nations, and ordinary citizens.

Overwhelmingly, Ugandans familiar with climate change say it is making life in their country worse, especially in the Karamoja and Lango sub-regions. But almost half of Ugandans still haven’t heard of climate change.

Makanga Ronald Kakumba

Makanga Ronald Kakumba is a research associate for Hatchile Consult Ltd., Afrobarometer’s national partner in Uganda.