Basotho climate change illiterate-report

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Bataung Moeketsi 

DESPITE being conscious of its devastating effects, just 24 percent of Basotho are conscious of what climate change really is, a recently published Afrobarometer survey has said.

According to the findings from the survey conducted between September 2016 and September 2018, Basotho are not climate change conscious but are aware of its effects on agricultural production.

The study relied on data from 45 835 face-to-face interviews spanning across 34 African countries.

Afrobarometer identified “climate change literate” Africans as those who have “heard of climate change, they understand it to have negative consequences, and they recognize it as being caused at least in part by human activity”.

The study concluded that 33 percent of Basotho respondents were aware of climate change and its negative effects, while 79 percent believed that climate conditions for agricultural production had gotten worse.

“Overall, nearly six in 10 Africans have at least heard of the phenomenon,” the report reads.

“But in others (African countries), awareness of climate change is much less widespread.

“These include some of the continent’s most influential countries, such as Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, as well as places where changing weather patterns are causing havoc with agriculture, as in Lesotho.”

Since as early as 2015, the effects of El Nino induced droughts have affected farmers and left thousands of households vulnerable in Lesotho.

This year alone, the government has pleaded with Basotho on different occasions to use water sparingly due to the subdued rainy season with below normal rainfall expected.

In July this year, the UN reported that up 700,000 Basotho faced severe hunger until the next harvest season. This was largely attributed to climate change patterns.

About 25 percent of Basotho respondents said they believed ordinary people could do little to stop climate change, whereas 23 percent believed that ordinary people could do a lot.

Afrobarometer identified the African continent as being one of the global regions that is susceptible to the dangers of climate change calling it “the defining development challenge of our time”.

“Long-term changes in temperatures and rainfall patterns are a particular menace to Africa, where agriculture forms the economic backbone of development priorities such as food security and poverty. As an issue, climate change per se does not register among the “most important problems” that Africans surveyed by Afrobarometer want their governments to address.

“But concerns about the effects of climate change may be embedded in some of the other priorities identified, including water supply (cited by 24 percent of respondents), food shortages (18 percent), and agriculture (17 percent). And progress in addressing these priorities may be seriously impeded by a changing climate. African countries dominate the bottom ranks in the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) Index, meaning they are the world’s countries most vulnerable to and least prepared for climate change,” the report reads.

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