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Home » Africa struggles to improve climate change literacy as its effects worsen across the continent – Alliance for Science

Africa struggles to improve climate change literacy as its effects worsen across the continent – Alliance for Science

Africa struggles to improve climate change literacy as its effects worsen across the continent

From scorching temperatures and devastating floods to continuous droughts and poor crop harvests, the heavy hand of climate change is too apparent to ignore in Africa.

But though they are already feeling its effects, most Africans are not literate about the glaring climate crisis, according to a study by scientists at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. This can contribute to people feeling hopeless to do anything about it, scientists say.

In a bid to build public awareness, Zimbabwe has rolled out educational programs, while Kenya is finding that music is an effective way to engage people and maintain a public conversation about the issue.

Climate change literacy relates to how people understand the causes of climate change and its potential in the world, said Nicholas Simpson, lead author of the study and a post-doctoral fellow at the African Climate and Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town.

Simpson argued that without climate change literacy people will be less able to adapt to projected adverse economic and environment impacts.

This is especially important in Africa, which is disproportionately experiencing the effects of the climate crisis. Africa accounts for just 3 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. By comparison, China contributes 23 percent, the United States 19 percent and the European Union 13 percent, according to the United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Using primary data from the pan-African research organization Afrobarometer, which conducted a public survey in 2018 using nationally representative samples of respondents in 33 African countries, the Cape Town University researchers found that climate change literacy varied substantially between countries.


From scorching temperatures and devastating floods to continuous droughts and poor crop harvests, the heavy hand of climate change is too apparent to ignore in Africa. But though they are already feeling its effects, most Africans are not literate about the glaring climate crisis, according to a stu...
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