“For those on the frontlines of severe weather, climate awareness is no longer a choice.”
A series of country cards on climate change by Afrobarometer shed light on Africans’ views on the climate crisis and their subsequent demands for action.
Released just ahead of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), the cards illustrate that for those on the frontlines of severe weather, climate awareness is no longer a choice. Plagued by disasters that adversely affect their lives, they want their governments, businesses and other stakeholders to act with urgency.
Citizens in the hardest hit African countries reported that climate-related disaster events had a deteriorating impact on daily life. This perception was most widespread in Madagascar (91%), Lesotho (88%), Mauritius (86%), Malawi (86%), and Benin (85%).
Notably, Malawi was devastated by Cyclone Freddy in March this year, resulting in 190 deaths, hundreds more injuries and the displacement of 19,000 people from their homes. Most fatalities were linked to mudslides in hilly Blantyre, the country's second biggest city. All in all, more than 400 people across Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar died as a result of the tropical cyclone since its initial landfall in late February.
While fewer than half of all Ghanaian and Zimbabwean citizens and only three in 10 Nigerians had even heard of climate change, those who were aware could link it to some of their countries’ most pressing challenges. They said it was making life worse and more action was needed from government and fellow citizens to combat it. Notably, Nigeria experienced the worst flooding in years, which killed hundreds and displaced more than a million people, after the survey, which was conducted in March 2022.
Deaths across Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.
One of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries located on the Indian Ocean coastline, Mozambique bears the risk of tropical cyclones and floods in the North and droughts in the South. Last year’s tropical storm Ana was a reminder of the threat to Mozambicans, 60% of whom live along the coastline, on the frontlines of sea-level rise, storm surges, and tropical cyclones. Despite this, climate awareness is staggering low, particularly in rural areas and among poor and less educated citizens. Only about one in three Mozambicans (36%) said they’d heard about climate change.
Only about one in three Mozambicans (36%) said they’d heard about climate change.
Tropical storm Ana was a reminder of the threat to Mozambicans, 60% of whom live along the coastline.
In Angola, where nearly half of the population lives on coastal areas, rising sea levels pose a threat. There’s also the impact of drought and flooding on the agricultural sector, which employs 85% of Angolan adults. These and other projected impacts, such as exposure to disease and food scarcity, place Angola among the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate disasters.
Afrobarometer findings show that fewer than half (46%) of Angolans have heard of climate change, with awareness particularly low in rural areas (25%, vs. 57% in cities) and among those with no formal education (23%) or only primary schooling (26%), increasing with secondary (56%) or post-secondary (79%) education.
However, Angolans who had climate awareness expected action by the government, business and industry, developed countries, and their fellow citizens. A majority said they wanted urgent government action, “even if it is expensive or causes some job losses or other harm to our economy.”
of Angolans have heard of climate change
among those with no formal education
increasing with secondary
Another vulnerable nation located in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius faces rising temperatures and sea levels, coastal erosion, altered precipitation patterns, and an increase in extreme weather events. The country, which is also experiencing flash floods that devastate the economy, ecosystem, and livelihoods, ranks 51st out of 181 countries for risk of disaster from extreme natural events, according to the World Risk Report 2021.
In response, the government has deployed several strategies, including the Climate Change Act, which will support the coordination of climate change issues at the highest level. This has led to a number of policies and projects that address adaptation and mitigation, including national tree-planting and coastal rehabilitation projects. Mauritian authorities aim to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 40% and increase the share of energy generation from green sources to 60% by 2030. Due to a combination of the above, Mauritians were more aware of climate change, more than seven in 10 citizens (73%) than the usual country average.
Mauritius ranks 51st out of 181 countries
overall greenhouse gas emissions reduction
energy generation from green sources
No matter where you place the needle point on the continent, Afrobarometer findings show that once citizens are aware of climate change and its effects on their countries, they champion government action to address it. For instance, among those familiar with climate change, eight in 10 (80%) Uganda citizens want the government to take immediate action, even if it’s costly, causes job losses, or negative effects on the economy.
Uganda is experiencing changing weather patterns with events such as floods, landslides, and prolonged drought becoming more frequent in the country. Last year, floods in the Eastern region claimed the lives of at least 30 people, destroying crops and leaving 400,000 without access to clean water. In the Karamoja sub-region, where eight in every 10 households are food-insecure, more than 900 people died of hunger as a result of prolonged drought. Unfortunately, almost half of Ugandans still hadn’t heard of climate change.
Evidently, lack of awareness is the greatest driver of climate inaction among African citizens. However, once they can link the deterioration of daily life to the impacts of the crisis, they become supporters of urgent intervention, no matter the short-term cost.