Warming of the Earth’s climate is leading to changes in precipitation patterns, alteration of seasonal river flow patterns, and sea level rise, all of which impact the quantity and quality of water resources [1
]. These impacts will particularly be felt in developing countries in Africa due to their limited access to adequate information, technology, institutions, and financial resources, that is, their limited “adaptive capacity”. Nigeria is in the low human development category based on the human development index (HDI) ranking with a score of 0.504 and a rank of 152 of the 187 countries analyzed [2
]. The country ranks 159 out of 230 countries based on gross domestic product on a purchasing power parity basis and an adult literacy rate of 51.1% [3
]. The indicators sometimes reflect economic and human capacity of a country to carry out relevant national practices. By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people in Africa are projected to be exposed to greater water quantity challenges due to the combined effects of climate change, population growth, and urbanization [5
]. Decision makers should, thus, be knowledgeable about climate change to ensure implementation of appropriate policies and programs that minimize the adverse effects and maximize the beneficial impacts of climate change. Although knowledge does not always translate to action, Stehr and Grundmann [7
] note that knowledge “should be understood as the first step towards action.”
According to Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate Change (BNRCC) [8
], there was late onset and early ending of the rainy season in most parts of the country between 1971 and 2000. However, increase in precipitation intensity has been observed in some areas. Over the past forty years, there has been a 20% increase in the volume of torrential rains across various southern states, some of which average 160 inches of rainfall a year [9
]. In Nigeria, the rainy seasons are expected to get wetter but the increase may not be substantial enough to increase water availability, as increasing temperatures will cause greater rates of evaporation [10
]. Additionally, the projected population growth rate in Nigeria to 2050, 5.2%, is more than double that of the world average (1.9%) creating greater demand for water [11
]. It should be noted that projected changes in seasonal rainfall due to climate change are highly uncertain [12
]. Additionally, increased rainfall intensity generates greater run-off, limiting the amount available for use. Projected increases do not guarantee more water availability in the future. In some parts of the country, the projected increase in precipitation may be accompanied by an increase in rainfall intensity; however, the decrease in rainfall projected during the dry seasons could lead to droughts [10
]. The country’s coastline is also susceptible to sea level rise [8
]. Water shortage in the face of climate change is a major concern because potable water is already at a premium across much of Nigeria, although mainly as a result of poor management, supply failures, and poor water use and conservation practices [9
]. Climate change could exacerbate the already dire situation [8
The potential reduction in the quantity and quality of water resources in Nigeria due to the effects of climate change makes it essential for the country to adapt. Adaptation is the adjustment of systems to actual or expected climate and its effects and seeks to minimize the adverse effects and exploit the beneficial opportunities of climate change [1
]. Additionally, Nigeria currently has to contend with other environmental issues, including desertification, pollution, and rapid urbanization that impact water quality and quantity [14
]. It is crucial that current and future decision makers in Nigeria are knowledgeable about climate change and its effects on the country to achieve effective adaptation and mitigation. The objectives of this study were to (1) assess the knowledge
of current ministry officials (proxy for current decision makers) and university students (proxy for future decision makers) about the causes and impacts of climate change in Nigeria; (2) assess the attitudes
of students and ministry officials to the importance of climate change relative to other environmental threats; and (3) compare knowledge and attitudes
between students and ministry officials. The study was carried out in Lagos and Akwa Ibom states located in Southern Nigeria because these states are economically important and the similar climates allow for comparison between study populations. A knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) survey was administered to participants; the knowledge and attitudes portion was analyzed to achieve the goals of the study. KAP surveys gather information on what respondents know, think, and do and are useful in determining knowledge gaps and behaviours. Findings from such surveys can help in planning effective advocacy, communication, and social mobilization (ACSM) programs [15
The study was carried out in Lagos mainland and Uyo, cities in Lagos and Akwa Ibom states, respectively. Lagos and Akwa Ibom are coastal states with tropical climates. Although Lagos is the smallest state geographically, its population of approximately 17 million makes it the most populous in Nigeria [16
]. Lagos is also the economic hub of the country, accounting for over 60% of the industrial and commercial activities in the nation [17
]. Lagos has over 2000 manufacturing facilities and over 200 financial institutions, including the Nigeria Stock Exchange and the nation’s monetary authority, the Central Bank of Nigeria [17
]. A majority of the 4 million residents of Akwa Ibom is engaged in subsistence farming and there are large deposits of oil and gas both on- and off-shore, making the state important economically and with respect to climate change policy [18
]. Both states were chosen because of their economic significance and vulnerability to climate change hazards. Although specific climate change information is lacking at the state scale for these locations, they are both located on the coast and vulnerable to sea level rise and increased flooding, erosion, and salinization [10
]. Akwa Ibom is in the Niger-Delta region of the country, an area that is projected to be 35% submerged with a sea level rise of 0.5 m [10
The study populations—ministry officials and university students—were chosen based on their likely influence on current and future climate adaptation activities in Nigeria. Employees of state ministries and water agencies were selected as proxy representatives of the population for decision makers. However, without knowledge of the internal politics of these organizations, there was no way to ensure that survey respondents have substantial influence on actual state-level decision making. University students were selected as proxy representatives of the population for future decision makers. Ministries that were surveyed included Lagos and Akwa Ibom states Ministries of Environment, Education, and Rural Development (in charge of water supply in rural areas), Lagos Water Corporation (in charge of water supply in urban areas in Lagos), and the Akwa Ibom Water Company (in charge of water supply in urban areas in Akwa Ibom). Officials from the climate change divisions of the ministries or, when a climate change division did not exist, the science and technology division were the focus of the study. The two largest universities, by student population, in both states were surveyed: University of Lagos in Lagos state and University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom state. Departments in the universities surveyed included engineering, environmental science, and law. These departments were selected because of their direct involvement in environmental issues and/or policies that guide environmental decisions. Additionally, students from these departments were selected based on the assumption that officials working in climate change divisions of the Ministries of Environment, Rural Development, and the urban water corporations and in the science and technology division of the Ministry of Education have a background in environmental sciences, engineering, and regulatory practices.
The same questions on knowledge and attitudes were asked of both decision makers and university students (Questions analyzed in the paper are shown in Table 1
; full survey in the supplementary section). For this study, the KAP survey gathered information on basic knowledge of climate change effects on Nigeria, attitudes regarding climate change, and knowledge of awareness practices carried out to improve knowledge and attitudes. The questions analyzed in this study are presented in the results section.
Questions posed to study participants and analyzed in this paper.
Questions posed to study participants and analyzed in this paper.
|Human activity is responsible for climate change:||Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree|
|Natural variability is responsible for climate change:||Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree|
|To what extent are human activity and natural climate variability responsible for climate change?||Solely human activities, Mainly human activities, Both equally responsible, Mainly natural variability, Solely natural variability|
|Which of the following will affect Nigeria as a consequence of climate change?||Sea level rise, Drought, Flooding, Coastal erosion, Rising temperatures, Melting glaciers, Desertification, Increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, Other, I don’t Know, No effects|
|What are the top three environmental issues facing Nigeria?||Overpopulation, Urbanization, Deforestation, Desertification, Climate Change, Pollution, Recycling, Environmental Education, Renewable energy, Other|
Approximately 15 questionnaires were distributed in each ministry. Individuals in departments within each ministry responsible for climate change and education were read a “consent to participate” write-up and, if they consented, given a questionnaire to complete. For the universities, the investigators went class to class and distributed questionnaires in classes that had students present. Participants were approached within the buildings that housed the relevant divisions and departments for the ministries and universities, respectively, and asked to participate. Selection of participants was based on availability to complete the survey. Before being asked to participate, students were asked if they were students of one of the three departments being surveyed in this study. Approximately 50 questionnaires were distributed to students in each department.
The data were analyzed using the R Statistical Package. The Chi-square statistic was used to analyze the Likert scale responses. This statistic is used to investigate the presence of differences in the distributions of categorical data and is non-parametric, that is, does not assume a distribution. Two main assumptions hold for the use of this statistic. One is that groups analyzed are independent, that is, no study participant fits into both groups and there is one response per participant as was the case for the study. The other assumption is that no more than 20% of the possible responses were chosen by less than five respondents and all individual Likert responses are chosen by at least one respondent [19
]. The Likert scale responses were analyzed by grouping the “agreement” responses and the “disagreement” responses and as a result the second assumption held. The Fisher’s exact test, a statistical test used to determine if there are non-random associations between two categorical variables, was used to analyze yes/no responses as well as questions in which respondents could select multiple choices. This test works well for small sample sizes and for analyses carried out with 2 choices and 2 groups and so was used instead of the Chi-square test for the aforementioned questions [20
]. All tests were conducted at a significance level of 95%.
The study population showed high agreement (approximately 90%) in the perception that human activities play a role in causing climate change. According to Bord et al.
], knowing what causes climate change, and what does not, is the greatest predictor of both stated intents to take voluntary actions and to vote to enact new government policies regarding climate change. However, this conclusion is specific to individual action and intentions rather than societal actions that bring change. Studies have shown that despite increasing scientific knowledge on climate change, actions are slow to occur, particularly at the political level [7
]. Stehr and Grundmann [7
] note that knowledge is, however, the first step to taking action. Study participants were located in Southern Nigeria, where gas flaring, one of the major environmental pollution issues in the country, occurs. Nigeria has the second highest gas flaring level in the world, and this accounts for approximately 30% of CO2
emissions in the country [10
]. There has been significant literature on the relationship between gas flaring and climate change [24
] and NGOs have been active in raising awareness about gas flaring and its linkages with climate change [25
]. This may contribute to the perception that human activities cause climate change. Although aware that human activities play a role in causing climate change, respondents were less confident about the relative significance of human activities when compared to natural climate variability. One reason for this may be that although human activities have become the dominant force and are responsible for most of the warming observed over the past 50 years [28
], the science on the influence of human activities on changes in precipitation amount and intensity, along with other climate factors are less certain. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) [28
], it is extremely likely
(95%–100% probability) human activities have been the dominant force in warming observed since the mid-20th century but it is likely
(66%–100% probability) that human influences have affected the global water cycle. Although there is no quantified confidence level for precipitation changes, there is medium confidence, on a scale of very low to very high, that human activities have influenced the intensification of heavy precipitation over some regions [28
]. Effective mitigation planning and implementation may arise from understanding the causes of climate change. As climate science improves, dissemination of data will be important to ensure that knowledge grows among different stakeholders.
Of the eight climate change effects presented to the survey participants, Nigeria is currently exposed to and/or will be directly exposed to all excluding melting glaciers as a result of climate change according to Nigeria’s First National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
]. Excluding melting glaciers, drought was the least selected option of both study populations. The likely reason for this is both study sites are not only located in the humid and wet south, but are also coastal states that experience annual average rainfall between 2000 mm and 3000 mm [18
]. According to Lorenzoni et al.
], individuals characterize climate change in relation to their everyday experiences. Lowe et al.
] also note that perceptions of climate change are linked to people’s own direct experiences. This relation to personal experiences may be inferred here because drought and desertification—two of the three least selected options for both groups—are effects of climate change to which Nigeria is particularly prone. However, these are more likely to be felt in the arid Northern region of the country than in the south. Ministry officials were more aware of most of the effects of climate change on the country at large than students; over 50% of ministry officials selected each of the effects, excluding melting glaciers, and only one of the effects was selected by more than 50% of the students. This shows lower level of knowledge about effects of climate change among students in comparison to ministry officials.
Generally, respondents were more knowledgeable about the causes of climate change than about its effects. Sundblad et al.
] carried out a study about climate change knowledge among experts, journalists, politicians, and laypersons in Sweden and reported that knowledge of climate change causes was also greater than that of future consequences in all groups. This difference in knowledge may occur as a result of the uncertainties inherent in projections of climate hazards in a region. For example, the IPCC states with high confidence
that warming over land regions in Africa are consistent with human caused climate change but with medium confidence
that mean annual temperature rise over Africa is likely
to exceed 2 °C [1
]. These projections are made based on different possible future scenarios and as a result are inherently inexact.
It is estimated that annually, Nigeria loses $5.1 billion due to environmental degradation [33
]. Nigeria currently has to contend with various environmental issues, including desertification, deforestation, pollution, and rapid urbanization [14
], and each of these is relevant to the livelihood of country’s citizens and economy of the country. For example, between 1983 and 1993, Nigeria lost approximately 20% of its forest and woodland area [14
]. The fact that Nigeria has numerous environmental problems can be seen in the responses to the question about environmental priorities in the country. Apart from the top chosen responses for both populations (pollution for students and climate change for ministry officials) and the least frequently chosen (desertification), all other responses were selected by roughly the same percentage of people (Table 7
). Climate change ranked in the top three environmental issues that should be prioritized in the country by both study populations. However, it is possible that since the survey was climate change focused, respondents may have assumed the investigators expected and preferred climate change as a response and as a result courtesy bias was introduced. Courtesy bias minimizes the likelihood of obtaining reliable information and as a result could distort the analysis of attitudes regarding climate change [34
]. Desertification was the least frequently selected environmental issue. Again, this may be attributed to the study sites being in Southern Nigeria, an area currently not prone to desertification. Personal experiences may be an influence because according to the Federal Republic of Nigeria [35
], desertification is affecting 10 northern Nigerian states and accounts for 73% of all GDP losses due to environmental degradation. Yet, it was the lowest priority of both students and ministry officials.
4.1. Limitations of the Study
Although ministry officials who were surveyed worked in the climate change or science and technology divisions of their specific ministries, the study could have benefited from additional participant information, such as information on ministry official titles and responsibilities to determine the decision making powers of the officials. Due to this limitation, the responses from officials serve as proxies for actual decision makers. Additionally, information on the universities and departments that the ministry officials attended was not collected during the survey. This information could help determine whether these ministries tend to hire from university departments surveyed and validate between groups comparisons.
In the consent script, participants were told that the study aimed to assess their perception of climate change as it relates to Nigeria. This could have biased participant responses as participants may have felt compelled to select desirable options, when possible. It is important to note that climate change was not the top priority selected by either participant group, however, this does not mean absence of bias.
4.2. Future Research
In terms of future studies, a similar study in the northern region of the country would provide a view of the knowledge of people in climate-diverse parts of the nation. Such a study would yield conclusions based on the diversity of climate zones, and therefore perceptions in Nigeria about the role of experiences in shaping knowledge of the impacts of climate change. Future research could also examine the educational background and work experiences of decision makers to determine if and how education and work experiences shape decisions made about climate specific practices. The effects of climate change awareness campaigns on university students, government decision-makers, and other relevant stakeholders could be examined as well as identifying such stakeholders that could influence climate change policy and action in Nigeria.
As the first known study carried out in Nigeria to determine knowledge of both ministry officials and university students in the country, the results provide insight on how knowledgeable ministry officials and university students are with regard to climate change causes and effects in Nigeria. Since findings explore the knowledge and attitudes of students, proxies for future decision makers, the findings may give an insight into future actions.
Additionally, ministry officials were more knowledgeable of climate change effects than university students, suggesting that ministry officials may have more access to climate change information than university students. The country may benefit from educational campaigns and/or awareness activities tailored to future decision makers of the country. These campaigns may be carried out at schools or climate change activities may be included in the curriculum if it is currently absent. Activities outside the formal educational system such as workshops on climate change may also be beneficial, as some officials may not have had formal teaching on climate change as part of their university education. This suggests that non-formal education on climate change may have played a role in their current level of knowledge. These activities can help improve knowledge of different impacts climate change may have on the country, the role climate change plays in the society, and causes of climate change as science on these topics are improved. Although knowledge does not always translate to action, it is the first step towards taking action [7
], and the effective climate change actions will require the right kind of knowledge.
Results suggest that personal experiences of those in Southern Nigeria may drive their perceptions of the likely impacts of climate change, a conclusion drawn in other studies set in different countries [30
]. In Nigeria, the south is characterized by tropical rainforest climate while the North is characterized by the Sahel climate. This varied climate characteristics makes it important that there is an understanding of climate change effects in the country as a whole. Based on the responses from this study, we recommend awareness campaigns tailored to university students to provide comprehensive knowledge about climate change effects in Nigeria.