Misalignment of perceptions with records and resources for responding to climate change risk

Climate change risks like extreme temperatures and high variability in rainfall adversely affect livelihoods, particularly for farmers in Burkina Faso where the primary sector is agriculture. Decisions on whether to adapt to these risks depend on how farmers perceive each risk and the resources they have available. In this study, we examine how long-term changes in temperature and rainfall are perceived by farmers in Burkina Faso. We also compare the extent to which these perceptions align with actual recorded changes in temperature and rainfall for multiple periods between 1991 and 2014. We use a logistic regression model to analyze the role of resources, such as asset ownership and perceived standards of living, along with household size, age, and gender of the household head to explain differences in perception and ultimately the decision to adapt. Our results show that the vast majority of farmers in Burkina Faso perceive changes in temperature and rainfall; however, only about half of those individuals perceive changes in ways that align with recorded long-term trends in their local temperature or rainfall. The extent to which those perceptions align with recorded changes depends on the time frame selected. Older farmers and those with assets were less likely to perceive temperature and rainfall trends in ways that aligned with climate records; however, farmers’ perceptions of temperature change aligning with records and their perceived standard of living were both associated with the decision to adapt. This misalignment of perceptions with records and resources has significant implications for efforts to inform and support climate risk mitigation and adaptation.

Front. Clim., 02 December 2022
Sec. Climate and Decision Making

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