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Ugandans Ignorant About Climate Change -Study :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Ugandans Ignorant About Climate Change -Study

The 2019 State of the Climate in Uganda report states that considerable increases in rainfall over the previous few decades have been observed in the east, northwest, and some areas of the southwest, while decreases have been observed in the northwest, west, and central regions of the nation.
11 Nov 2022 16:06

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As experts and politicians meet in Egypt for the Climate Change Conference (COP 27), a new study finds that many Ugandans are ignorant on what climate change is all about.

Twaweza’s Sauti za Wananchi survey on citizens’ experiences and views on climate change finds that many Ugandans think it is all about weather patterns.

According to data gathered from 2,622 respondents between September 22 and October 22, this year, 8 out of 10 people explain climate change as referring to a change in weather, with the majority of these people viewing the concept as daily weather conditions, changes in patterns of rain and sun, or shifting wet and dry seasons.

“…the picture painted by the data is one of a disappointing but unsurprising lack of understanding. We should not be surprised that citizens understand climate change as being almost exclusively about greenhouse gases,” the survey brief points out.

The data also shows that 6 out of 10 citizens blame the changes in weather patterns to cutting down of trees and forests while 2 out 10 says that this is just a natural phenomenon and a small percentage says this is just a punishment sent by God.

Many times when citizens experience floods and drought, they tend to rush to the conclusion that these are a result of climate change but Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. Human activities have been the main drivers of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.

Marie Nanyanzi, senior programmes officers at Twaweza, says that from their findings it can be seen that that climate science remains a complex matter only understood by a small number of elite while the rest of citizens’ understanding of the topic appears to be quite low.

According to Nanyanzi, local mitigation and adaptation efforts cannot be successful if citizens are unaware of the issue. She continues by saying that more information must be given to the villagers because they only have inadequate basic knowledge.

She advises that locals must for instance understand the connection between burning trash, which many people do not see to be a problem, and the widespread problem of carbon emissions that nations are working to address.

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What is perhaps more significant, however, is the knock-on effects of changing weather patterns on peoples’ livelihood with many citizens reporting some changes in local seasons and weather patterns, decreased production and food shortages during the past 5 to 10 years. This change has indeed been reported by monitoring stations.

The 2019 State of the Climate in Uganda report states that considerable increases in rainfall over the previous few decades have been observed in the east, northwest, and some areas of the southwest, while decreases have been observed in the northwest, west, and central regions of the nation.

Meanwhile, Dr Emmanuel Otaala, Chairperson of the parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources, says that with climate change becoming a critical issues leader, including members of parliament, and experts with information on the subject need to disseminate it to the masses whenever they get a chance.

Otaala made the comments at a symposium hosted by the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Water sanitation and hygiene- WASH where various CSOs and other participants were discussing the nexus between WASH and climate change.

“Those armed with the right information should provide it to the local whenever they are given change to speak to the general public. right information people will move towards right mitigation and adaptation solutions to safe guard the country from the perishing,” he says.

It should be highlighted, though, that global climate change illiteracy is a problem, not just in Uganda. Numerous other countries' studies also point to the same tendency. A sizable portion of people, even in western nations like the USA, continue to believe that climate change is a myth, hoax, or conspiracy.

For instance, a 2015 study reported in the journal Nature Climate Change found that more than 40 percent of adults on Earthdidn’t just lack basic information about climate change but had completely never heard it. 

                    

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