Climate change is making life worse in Togo but less known to farmers

Climate change is making life worse in Togo but less known to farmers

The issue of climate change is currently one of the debates fueling the international political scene. Developing countries are more dependent on climate resources for their agriculture and have a lower adaptive capacity than industrialized countries (Pereira, 2017; Hernes et al., 1995; Schelling, 1992). On the other hand, developing countries suffer as much as developed countries from the consequences of global warming, although they produce fewer greenhouse gases. In order to fight against this scourge, in 2009, Togo proposed a National Action Plan for Adaptation responding to issues relating to natural disasters, agriculture, floods, coastal erosion (MANATIONTOGO, 2015). However, recent Afrobarometer data shows that Togolese believe that climatic conditions for agricultural production – especially drought – have deteriorated over the past 10 years. This thought is more advanced among farmers and in the Savannah region.

Perceptions of changing climatic conditions

The majority (63%) of Togolese believe that over the past 10 years, climatic conditions with regard to agricultural production have become “worse” or “much worse”. This perception is stronger among farmers (72%) than among other citizens (60%). At the same time, it is stronger among rural people (70%) than in towns (52%). Moreover, this perception is very high in the Savanes region (82%) unlike Lomé Commune (46%), which is not an agricultural region. Specifically, two out of three Togolese (68%) believe that the drought in their region has become “somewhat” or “much” more severe. Again we note a very large proportion (93%) of the population of the Savanes region – the hottest region and closest to the Sahara desert – who say the drought has become more severe. Similarly, it appears that farmers (74%) are more concerned by the issue of drought than other Togolese citizens (65%), as well as rural people (73%) compared to urban people (59%). Moreover, the perception of Togolese regarding the severity of the drought does not depend on gender but on the level of education. Togolese with a post-secondary level of education (57%) seem to perceive the severity of the drought less than the less educated, for example those with a primary level (72%). Among the climatic hazards, flooding seems to be a less worrying factor in Togo. Thus, only 26% of respondents believe that the flooding phenomenon has worsened in their region over the past 10 years, while the majority (55%) say that it has become less serious. The Central region is the least affected by the problem of flooding (4%); on the other hand, the populations of Savanes (46%) and Lomé (40%) believe that the severity of the floods has increased. The urban environment seems to be more exposed (32%) to flooding than the rural environment (22%).

Knowledge of “climate change”

Knowledge of the concept of “climate change” is not as deeply rooted in the Togolese population as the perception of certain changes in climatic conditions. Indeed, more than half (55%) of Togolese claim to have heard of climate change, against 44% who ignore it. This knowledge varies greatly according to socio-demographic categories. Farmers (41%) have heard less about climate change than other citizens (60%), which in turn leads to the same trends between rural people (47%) and urban people (67%). The data also show that knowledge of the concept of climate change depends on gender and level of education. Men have heard much more about climate change than women (65% versus 45%). On the other hand, women also participate in deforestation through the use of firewood for cooking as well as for medicinal herbs (World Bank, 2018). Moreover, the question of climate change seems much more a question of intellectuals than a shared question. Indeed, Togolese with a post-secondary or secondary level are more informed (64%) than those with no formal education (28%). Among those who are aware of the concept of climate change, eight out of 10 Togolese (79%) define it as negative changes, such as more droughts, floods, or extreme heat. This proportion is very high in the Savanes region (92%). This may be due to the fact that the Savannah region is much more affected by climate change in Togo in terms of drought and flooding.

Causes and effects of climate changes

In Togo, among those who have heard of climate change, more than six in 10 respondents (64%) attribute it to human activities, such as the search for fuels and other activities that pollute the atmosphere. Togolese (81%) are also convinced that climate change is affecting life in Togo to the point of making it “somewhat worse” or “much worse”. Nevertheless, the majority of Togolese (74%) believe that ordinary citizens can fight against climate change. Togolese agriculture is essentially dependent on climatic conditions and therefore becomes unproductive in the face of climatic constraints. The issue of climate change is to be taken seriously by decision-makers since it affects agricultural production and therefore constitutes a threat to the socio-economic development of the country. Afrobarometer data shows that farmers, rural dwellers, less educated people, and women know less about climate change issues. The government must therefore raise awareness among these populations so that they better understand the issues of climate change, the causes, the consequences, and the approaches to possible solutions.

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