Journal of Community Medicine & Public Health Care Category: Medical Type: Review Article

Perception of Climate Change among Youths in a FBO in a South-Eastern Town in Nigeria: A Pilot Study

Ngozi Nneka Joe-Ikechebelu1, Emmanuel Chukwunonye Azuike2* and Basil Elochukwu Nwankwo3
1 Department Of Community Medicine And Primary Health Care, Social Dimensions Of Health Program, Faculty Of Human And Social Development, Nigerian Centre For Eco-Health Research (NCEHR), Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Awka, Anambra, Nigeria
2 Department Of Community Medicine, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University/University Teaching Hospital Awka, Awka, Anambra, Nigeria
3 Department Of Ent, Nigerian Centre For Eco-Health Research (NCEHR), Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Awka, Anambra, Nigeria

*Corresponding Author(s):
Emmanuel Chukwunonye Azuike
Department Of Community Medicine, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University/University Teaching Hospital Awka, Awka, Anambra, Nigeria
Tel:+234 8036719904,
Email:emmanazuike@yahoo.com

Received Date: Jul 23, 2019
Accepted Date: Aug 01, 2019
Published Date: Aug 08, 2019

Abstract

Background
Climate change is a grim reality facing humanity. The options left to humanity include: finding ways to reduce the rate at which climate change is occurring; adopting measures that help humanity cope with climate change and even take advantage of the effects of climate change where possible. This study aimed at determining the climate change awareness level and practice of adaptation strategies among the respondents.

Methodology
This was a cross-sectional descriptive study among members of the youth wing of a Faith-Based Organization (FBO) in Southeastern Nigeria. This study is a pilot study which serves as a preamble for a study that will have the entire Southeastern geo-political zone of Nigeria as its study population. Data was analyzed using SPSS data analysis software. Results were presented using frequency tables.

Results
Fifty-six respondents participated in the study. Level of awareness of the respondents regarding climate change was very high as 96.1% of the respondents were aware of climate change. The cause of climate change that is most recognized by the respondents is “bush burning” (76.8%). The effect of climate change that is most recognized is “desertification” (55.4%). The effect of climate change that is least recognized is “landslides” (28.6%). The most commonly practiced measure to mitigate climate change among the respondents is “telling others about climate change” (46.4%). Only 5.4% “trek or use public transport instead of driving privately” as a measure to mitigate climate change.

Conclusion
This study demonstrated that the youths are aware of climate change but they have poor knowledge of both the causes and the effects/impacts of climate change. We recommend interventions to increase the knowledge of young people in Nigeria regarding climate change.

Keywords

Climate change; Nigeria; Perception

ABBREVIATIONS

FBO: Faith Based Organization

INTRODUCTION

Globally, human civilization is rife with its environmental signatures with its role on the sustainability of the earth with a consequential global ecological modification. The environmental signatures of certain environmental activities is felt as the Anthropocene, “a new geological time period that marks the age of colossal and rapid human impacts on Earth’s systems has its health and social outcomes” [1]. According to the Australian Academy of Sciences, Climate change is a change in the pattern of weather, and related changes in oceans, land surfaces and ice sheets, occurring over time scales of decades or longer [2]. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States of America defined climate change as a change in the usual weather found in a place. This could be a change in how much rain a place usually gets in a year. Or it could be a change in a place's usual temperature for a month or season [3]. This is a simplified definition for a lay man. “Global warming” is sometimes erroneously assumed to be the same as Climate change. Global warming is actually an aspect of climate change. Global warming refers to the rise in global temperatures due mainly to increasing concentrations of green house gases in the atmosphere. This is especially needful in the dire IPCC report of October 2018 of a global warning of 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels and related greenhouse gas emission pathways that emphasizes on environmental preservation from the anthropogenic activities to avoid the health and social consequences from further warming [4].

Climate change affects health in several ways and a few are highlighted. Climate change, especially in tropical regions, (via its effects on temperature and surface water) affects the breeding of vectors that transmit infectious diseases such as mosquitoes which transmit malaria and viral diseases (eg dengue and yellow fever). Similarly, rodents which transmit diseases (such as leptospirosis and tularemia) show proliferation patterns that are associated with climate variability. Evidences abound that certain diarrhoeal diseases exhibit seasonal variability. Climate change also causes extreme temperatures which are obviously dangerous to health (such as high temperatures resulting in fatal heat waves). Climate change has also resulted in the occurrence of weather disasters (such as droughts, floods, storms and bushfires) which have led to mortalities. 

Over time, efforts have been initiated (consciously or sub-consciously) to either reduce the occurrence of climate change (mitigation), or reduce the effects of climate change (adaptation), by individuals, communities and governments. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment), climate change mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases [5]. Mitigation measures include using new technologies, harnessing renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, even changing management practices or consumer behavior, all geared towards reducing the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. After the awareness for climate change was created, mitigation was initially the only focus. Over the years, it became evident that mitigation was not enough to halt the effects of climate change. Instead scientists came to realize that there is need to adapt to the increasing world temperature. This gave rise to the concept of climate change adaptation.

According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), climate change adaptation is a process by which strategies to moderate, cope with and take advantage of the consequences of climatic events are enhanced, developed, and implemented [6]. Another definition was given by the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) thus: adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts. It refers to changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change [7]. The central idea behind climate change adaptation is to help individuals, families, communities and governments to live as normally as possible even with the effects and impacts of climate change. It has to do with practical actions to manage the consequences of climate change and also take advantage (where possible) of the effects and impacts of climate change. Adaptation aims at making humans understand and accept that climate change is real and consequently find ways to coexist with the resultant effects of climate change.

This study aims at empirically determining the climate change awareness level and practice of adaptation strategies among a group of youths who belong to a faith-based organization in South-Eastern Nigeria.

METHODOLOGY

Study area: This study was conducted in Anambra State, South-East, Nigeria. Anambra State is one of the thirty-six (36) States of Nigeria and is situated on a generally low elevation on the eastern bank of the River Niger. It is bounded in the north by Kogi State, in the south by Imo State, in the east by Enugu State and in the west by Delta State. The State comprises of 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs), 3 senatorial zones, and 177 communities, with the capital at Awka. The predominant religion in the State is Christianity.

Study design, Sampling technique and Data collection: This was a cross sectional descriptive study which serves as a pilot study. The findings from this pilot study will inform the design of a full blown study in the entire Southeastern geo-political zone of Nigeria. The study population was the members of the youth wing of a faith based organization. All the members (56 in number) were administered questionnaires (total population sampling). The questionnaire was semi-structured and self-administered.

Data analysis: The data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The findings were presented using frequency tables.

Ethical considerations: Ethical clearance was obtained from ethics committee of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Awka, and Anambra State, Nigeria. A verbal informed consent was obtained from the participants after a detailed explanation of the study.

RESULTS

Table 1 shows the biodata of the respondents. Fifty six youths participated in this study. The average age of the youths was 16.56 (±2.6) years. The lowest age was 12 years and the highest age was 27 years. The commonest age group was the 10 to 19 years age group (91%). There were more males (55.4%) than females. All the respondents were single and Christians by religion. Majority of the respondents have completed secondary school (75%). 
 

Variable

Frequency

Percentage (%)

Age (as at last birthday)

 

 

Less than 10 years

0

0.0

10 to 19 years

51

91.1

20 to 29 years

4

7.1

30 or more years

1

1.8

Total

56

100.0

Gender

 

 

Male

31

55.4

Female

25

44.6

Total

56

100.0

Marital Status

 

 

Single

56

100.0

Others

0

0.0

Religion

 

 

Christianity

56

100.0

Others

0

0.0

Highest educational qualification

 

 

Nil formal education

0

0.0

Vocational school

0

0.0

Completed junior secondary

4

7.1

Completed senior secondary

42

75.0

Completed tertiary education

8

14.3

Missing

2

3.6

Total

56

100.0

Table 1: Biodata.

Table 2 shows the awareness of the respondents. The level of awareness of the respondents regarding climate change was very high as 96.1% of the respondents were aware of climate change.

Variable

Frequency

Percentage

Aware of climate change

 

 

Yes

54

96.4

No

1

1.8

I don’t know

1

1.8

Total

56

100.0

Aware of global warming

 

 

Yes

50

89.3

No

3

5.4

I don’t know

1

1.8

Missing

2

3.6

Total

56

100.0

Aware of both climate change and global warming

 

 

Yes

48

85.7

No

3

5.4

I don’t know

1

1.8

Missing

4

7.1

Total

56

100.0

Table 2: Awareness of climate change and global warming.

Table 3 shows the perception of occurrence of climate change. 78.6% of the respondents have actually observed climate change. 28.6% of the respondents agreed that climate change is a very serious problem. 
 

Variable

Frequency

Percentage

Have you personally observed environmental changes that confirm climate change is happening?

 

 

Yes

44

78.6

No

8

14.3

I don’t know

3

5.4

Missing

1

1.8

Total

56

100.0

Have you personally observed changes in weather and rain pattern?

 

 

Yes

39

69.6

No

4

7.1

I don’t know

3

5.4

Missing

10

17.9

Total

56

100.0

Have you personally observed increasing draught?

 

 

Yes                                                              

47

83.9

No

9

16.1

Total

56

100.0

Do you think that climate change is happening in Nigeria?

 

 

Yes

46

82.1

No

7

12.5

Missing

3

5.4

Total

56

100.0

How serious is the problem of climate change?

 

 

Not serious

15

26.8

Very serious

16

28.6

Not sure

24

42.9

Missing

1

1.8

Total

56

100.0

Table 3: Respondents’ individual perception of climate change.

Table 4 shows the knowledge of the respondents regarding the causes of climate change. The cause that is most recognized by the respondents is bush burning (76.8%). The cause that is least recognized is the “use of plastic products” (5.4%).

Variable

Frequency

Percentage

What are the causes of climate change?

 

 

Human induced activities

27

48.2

Natural phenomenon

23

41.1

Supernatural/religious forces

2

3.6

Others

2

3.6

Missing

2

3.6

Total

56

100

Does tree cutting cause climate change?

 

 

Yes

23

41.1

No

12

21.4

Don’t know

2

3.6

Missing

19

33.9

Total

56

100.0

Does new roofing style cause climate change?

 

 

Yes

4

7.1

No

24

42.9

Don’t know

8

14.3

Missing

20

35.7

Total

56

100.0

Does bush burning cause climate change?

 

 

Yes

43

76.8

No

1

1.8

Don’t know

2

3.6

Missing

10

17.9

Total

56

100.0

Does improper refuse disposal cause climate change?

 

 

Yes

23

41.1

No

6

10.7

Don’t know

6

10.7

Missing

21

37.5

Total

56

100.0

Does use of plastic products cause climate change?

 

 

Yes

3

5.4

No

21

37.5

Don’t know

8

14.3

Missing

24

42.9

Total

56

100.0

Table 4: Knowledge of Causes of Climate change.

Table 5 shows the knowledge of the respondents regarding the effects/impacts of climate change. The effect that is most recognized is desertification (55.4%). The effect that is least recognized is landslides (28.6%). 

Famine

Frequency

Percentage

Yes

28

50.0

No

4

7.1

Don’t know

36

64.3

Missing

20

35.7

Total

56

100.0

Desertification

 

 

Yes

31

55.4

No

1

1.8

Don’t know

3

5.4

Missing

21

37.5

Total

56

100.0

Diseases

 

 

Yes

21

37.5

No

6

10.7

Don’t know

4

7.1

Missing

24

42.9

Total

56

100.0

Landslides

 

 

Yes

16

28.6

No

5

8.9

Don’t know

7

12.5

Missing

28

50.0

Total

56

100.0

Decreasing environmental resources

 

 

Yes

17

30.4

No

9

16.1

Don’t know

8

14.3

Missing

22

39.3

Total

56

100.0

Table 5: Knowledge of impact/effects of climate change.

Table 6 shows the respondents’ opinion on whose duty it is to combat climate change. Those who feel it is the responsibility of the federal government had the highest vote (39.3%).

Variable

Frequency

Percentage

Who should address climate change in Africa

 

 

Local governments should address climate change in Africa

14

25.0

State governments should address climate change in Africa

12

21.4

Federal government should address climate change in Africa

22

39.3

Individuals in Nigeria should address climate change in Africa

11

19.6

International governments should address climate change in Africa

7

12.5

National institutions should address climate change in Africa

11

19.6

International institutions should address climate change in Africa

16

28.6

Governments and individuals should address climate change in Africa

21

37.5

Nigerian governments and individuals should address climate change in Africa

13

23.2

None of the above

4

7.1

Measures to mitigate climate change

 

 

Banning importation of used cars and electronic gadgets 

6

10.7

Educating the public on energy use

30

53.6

Adaptation measures are needed against climate change

17

30.4

Advocacy for clean energy policies is needed against climate change

14

25.0

Behavioral changes that reduce energy consumption are needed

12

21.4

Learning and educating others on adaptation to climate change effects is needed against climate change

32

57.1

Table 6: Respondents opinion of who should address climate change in Africa (multiple responses) and measures to mitigate climate change (multiple responses).

Table 7 shows the climate change mitigation measures practiced by the respondents. The most practiced measure is “telling others about climate change” (46.4%). Only 5.4% trek or use public transport instead of driving privately.

Variable

Frequency

Percentage

Switching off lights when not in use

18

32.1

Unplugging unused electronic gadgets

14

25.0

Trekking or using public transport instead of driving privately

3

5.4

Telling others about climate change

26

46.4

Table 7: Measures practiced by respondents to mitigate climate change (multiple responses).

DISCUSSION

Fifty-six youths participated in this study. The average age of the youths was 16.56 (±2.6) years. The lowest age was 12 years and the highest age was 27 years. The commonest age group was the 10 to 19 years age group (91%). There were more males (55.4%) than females. All the respondents were single and Christians by religion. Majority of the respondents have completed secondary school (75%). 

The level of awareness of the respondents regarding climate change was very high as 96.1% of the respondents were aware of climate change. Similarly, 89.4% of the respondents were aware of global warming. A study conducted in the cities of Portland and Houston (both in the USA) also reported high levels of awareness of climate change (98% in Portland and 92% in Houston) [8]. In Gombe, Nigeria, Msheliza & Bello reported that 85.6% of the respondents were aware of climate change [9]. This study was conducted among youths. It is commendable that the youths are aware of climate change because climate change is a long-term challenge and the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. If the youths become aware early in life and start making changes in their lifestyles it will lead to adaptive and mitigating measures being achieved. 

Despite the high awareness, the respondents exhibited a poor knowledge of some specific causes of climate change as only 41.1% knew that tree cutting encourages climate change and only 7.1% knew that roofing styles affect environmental preservation. Worse still, only 5.4% knew that the use of plastics encourages ecological changes. A nationally representative study among 517 American teens reported that 46.4% of the respondents correctly identified causes of climate change [10]. A study in Accra, Ghana reported that none of the residents who participated in the study identified fossil fuels as a cause of climate change [11]. The respondents in our study also exhibited poor knowledge of the effects/impacts of climate change based on the proportion of respondents that acknowledged the following effects/impacts of climate change: famine (50.0%), desertification (55.4%), diseases (37.5), and landslide (28.6%). Similarly, a study done in Akwa-Ibom State and Lagos States of Nigeria reported that only 34.65 of the students recognized droughts as a consequence of climate change [12]. The level of knowledge of our respondents regarding the causes and effects/impacts of climate change is not encouraging because knowledge is the first step towards action though knowledge does not guarantee action. This actually indicates that interventions should be directed at increasing the knowledge of the youths in Africa regarding climate change. 

Majority (78.6%) of the respondents reported that they have observed changes that indicate climate change is occurring. Similarly, 69.6% of the respondents have observed changes in weather and rain, while 83.9% have observed increasing droughts. Furthermore, 82.1% of the respondents believe climate change is occurring in Nigeria and 28.6% think it is a serious problem. These findings are actually good because they bring home the reality of climate change. The respondents having observed the changes and also seeing climate change as a reality will make them more likely to accept adaptation strategies if they are taught. They are also more likely to take ownership of policies instituted by government with respect to climate change mitigation. 

Our study showed that the respondents do not appreciate the role individuals should play in addressing climate change in Africa. Only 19.65% of the respondents agreed that individuals should be involved in addressing climate change. Only 57.1% of the respondents knew that “learning and educating others on adaptation to climate change effects is needed against climate change”. Worse still, 53.6% identified “educating the public on energy use” as a measure to mitigate climate change. These findings are of great concerns because climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies cannot be successful without the input of individuals and families in the communities. Interventional approaches at the micro (individuals), meso (communities) and macro (policies, government) levels have a way of synergistic impact. Governments alone will not be successful in entrenching adaptation strategies and mitigation measures if the citizens do not adopt changes in lifestyle.

Looking at the measures actually practiced by the respondents to reduce the effects of climate change, it is very evident that the respondents were doing very little to mitigate climate change and its effect. Only 5.4% of the respondents “trek or use public transport instead of driving” as a measure to mitigate climate change and only 25% “unplug electrical gadgets when not in use” as a measure to mitigate climate change. In the cities of Portland and Houston in the USA, 43% of respondents reported having reduced their energy usage at home, 39% had reduced gasoline consumption, and 26% engaged in other behaviors, largely recycling.8It is not surprising that the practice of measures to mitigate climate change is very low among our study respondents because there can’t be action without knowledge. Our respondents have already demonstrated poor knowledge of the causes of climate change.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, our study has demonstrated that the youths are aware of climate change but they have poor knowledge of both the causes and the effects/impacts of climate change. They also do not practice mitigation measures against climate change. We therefore recommend as follows: Intensified efforts to increase the knowledge of young people in Nigeria regarding climate change, with special emphasis on the causes and effects/impacts of climate change. This can be done using the three levels of intervention for individuals such as at schools, families and communities through the use of media. We also recommend macro level intervention in the form of government policies that aim at increasing behavioral change in favor of lifestyles that foster climate change mitigation.

DECLARATION

Ethics approval and consent to participate: Ethical clearance was obtained from ethics committee of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Awka, and Anambra State, Nigeria. A verbal informed consent was obtained from the participants after a detailed explanation of the study.

CONSENT FOR PUBLICATION

Not applicable

AVAILABILITY OF DATA AND MATERIAL

The dataset used and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

COMPETING INTERESTS

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

FUNDING

This study was self funded by the authors.

AUTHORS’ CONTRIBUTIONS

Ikechebelu NN and Azuike EC were involved in the conception and design of the study. Nwankwo BE was involved in the data collection, data entry and data analysis. All three authors participated in the writing up of the study. All three authors participated in final proof reading before submission of the paper.

CONSENT FOR PARTICIPANTS LESS THAN 15 YEARS

The authors sought a verbal consent from the parents of the participants that are less than 16 years. The parents of all the under-aged participants gave verbal consent after the study protocol was explained to them.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

The Authors hereby declare that there were no conflicts of interest.

REFERENCES

  1. Hancock T, Capon A, Dietrich U, Patrick R (2016) Governance for health in the Anthropocene. International Journal of Health Governance 21: 245-262.
  2. Australian Academy of Sciences (2019) What is climate change? AAS, Canberra, Australia.
  3. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2014) What is climate change? NASA, Washington, USA.
  4. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2019) Special Report: Global warming of 1.5ºC. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland.
  5. United Nations Environment Program (2019) Mitigation. UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya.
  6. United Nations Development Program (2019) Taking the pulse of our climate. UNDP, New York, USA.
  7. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2019) What do adaptation to climate change and climate resilience mean? UNFCCC, Bonn, Germany.
  8. Semenza JC, Hall DE, Wilson DJ, Bontempo BD, Sailor DJ, et al. (2008) Public perception of climate change voluntary mitigation and barriers to behavior change. Am J Prev Med 35: 479-487.
  9. Msheliza DS, BelloY (2018) Perception of Climate Change by Smallholder Maize Farmers in Gombe State, Nigeria. Asian Journal of Agricultural Extension, Economics & Sociology 28: 1-8.
  10. Yale Project on Climate Change Communication (2011) American Teens’ knowledge of Climate Change. YPCCC, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
  11. Codjoe SN, Owusu G, Burkett V (2014) Perception, experience, and indigenous knowledge of climate change and variability: the case of Accra, a sub-Saharan African city. Regional Environmental Change 14: 369-383.
  12. Ojomo E, Elliott M, Amjad U, Bartram J (2015) Climate Change Preparedness: A Knowledge and Attitude Study in Southern Nigeria. Environments 2: 435-448.

Citation: Joe-Ikechebelu NN, Azuike EC, Nwankwo BE (2019) Perception of Climate Change among Youths in a FBO in a South-Eastern Town in Nigeria: A Pilot Study. J Community Med Public Health Care 6: 050.

Copyright: © 2019  Ngozi Nneka Joe-Ikechebelu, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

© 2022, Copyrights Herald Scholarly Open Access. All Rights Reserved!