https://lisdigest.org
Abstract
Climate change is one of the greatest environmental problems confronting the 21st century. It has
impacted several systems of the economy in areas such as food availability and supply, access to
basic education, natural energy, healthcare, environment, security and many other socio-
economic and political arms of governance. Accurate information and awareness especially
among the youths are critical to mitigating the impact of climate change. This paper assesses the
perception of climate change amongst students studying in higher institutions of learning in
Northern Nigeria. It further investigates the available and accessible medium of information
relating to climate change in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. The results
were analysed descriptively and showed that most of the students are aware of the changes in
weather patterns, with flood and heat waves contributing the most changes affecting the
environmentat20.5% and 46.6% respectively. In addition, the results showed that although
information relating to climate change is readily available, it is however not easily accessible due
to the cost of the internet bundle (39.75%) and the cost of journal and textbook subscriptions
(26.25%). Therefore, information must be made accessible especially in tertiary institutions to
raise an informed set of graduates who will tackle societal issues proactively and sustainably.
Keywords: Climate Change; Climate change awareness; climate change perception; climate change
information sources; students.
Volume 14 | Article 2 May, 2021|
14
Library and Information Science Digest
Volume 14: Issue 1, May 2021
OPEN ACCESS
Assessment of the Perception and Awareness of Climate Change
and the Influence of Information Amongst Tertiary Education Students
in North-East Nigeria
1 2
Philip G. Malgwi and Williams K. Joshua
1
Department of Library and Information Science, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
2
Federal University, Wukari
Received: 2020/09/13. Accepted: 2021/05/06. Published: 2021/05/27
ISSN (Online): 2672 - 4820
Introduction
Climate change is increasingly posing
tremendous threat to human health and
existence. Several studies have attributed
the recent unprecedented impacts of
climate change to anthropogenic causes
(Andric et al., 2019; Dedinec et al., 2015;
IPCC, 2001, 2014; Lata & Nunn, 2012;
Masood, 1995), through greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions which trap heat and warm
the atmosphere (IPCC, 2014, 2018). For
instance, the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) reports indicated
that most of the observed extreme events
over the past 50 years are likely to have
been solely due to the increasing
concentrations of GHG produced by human
activities such as deforestation, bush
burning, fossil fuel burning and the release
of s e ve ra l o th er G HG s t hr ou gh
industrialisation and urbanisation (Parry, et
al., 2007; IPCC 2012). Although the
impacts of climate change are felt globally
and disproportionately, there have been
several arguments of ignorance and the lack
of knowledge concerning its existence and
realities. The rural populace of developing
countries are likely to have experienced the
impacts of climate change but do not know
the cause or the actions to undertake. For
example, local farmers are likely to have
experienced variation in precipitation, but
might not know why the variations are
persistent especially with devastating
impacts such as drought and flood (Haider,
2019).
The lack of knowledge regarding the cause
of climate change amongst rural or local
people in developing countries is likely to
extend to students who travel from rural
regions to attend higher education in
universities, polytechnics and colleges of
education. However, the question remains;
are these higher institutions of learning
capable of availing and transferring
information about climate change to
students with no prior knowledge about the
causes of climate change? Is this
information on climate change readily
available and accessible to these students?
These are vital questions because an
informed and knowledgeable society is
most likely to adapt and mitigate the
impacts of climate change. This is true
because differences in perception have
important implications for actions
u nd e rt a ke n , a n d t ho s e w h o a r e
acknowledgeable and accept human-
induced climate change as a reality are
significantly more likely to engage in
mitigation measures (Harmer & Rahman,
2014). Although the extent to which
students are aware of climate change and
the link between perception and action can
be debated, there is still a likelihood that
students from rural areas who are informed
about the causes of climate change can
influence their communities on mitigation
and adaptation measures.
Nigeria, as a developing country is also
susceptible to the unprecedented impacts of
climate change due to its dependency on
natural resources for food, drugs and other
raw materials (Nzeadibe, 2011). When
these resources are affected, people and
their communities become severely
impacted (Akpomi & Vipene, 2016). Often
their sources of livelihoods are taken away
from them and rural communities become
vulnerable. For example, seasonal
alterations of rainfall and temperature can
likely lead to flood or drought, the spread of
diseases, conflicts due to competition over
scarce resources and these impacts can
force communities to abandon their places
of residence and livelihood. In addition,
with a fast-growing uninformed population
and unprecedented climate impacts, it is
most likely that a lot of people will be
exposed, thereby increasing the number of
vulnerable people globally (IPCC, 2018).
Reducing vulnerability to climate change
and building resilience and adaptation can
only be feasible when the populace is
informed especially about the causes, and
consequences of certain actions that
contribute to climate change. Northern
Nigerian rural communities who solely
depend on rain-fed agriculture must be
Philip G. Malgwi and Williams K. Joshua
Assessment of the Perception and Awareness of Climate Change and the Influence of Information Amongst
Tertiary Education Students in North-East Nigeria
Volume 14 | Article 2 | May, 2021
15
enlightened on the implications of variation
in precipitation and temperature on food
production. This can likely improve the
adoption and implementation of smart
climate agricultural measures and
techniques and the use of drought resistance
crops as an adaptation measure in
combating climate change.
This study is aimed at assessing the
perception of climate change amongst
university, colleges and polytechnic
students within the northeast region of
Nigeria. The study also aims to assess the
availability of information within these
institutions of learning and to understand
how accessible information is to students.
This is important especially in equipping
the younger generations with the necessary
information required to adapt and mitigate
the impacts of climate change.
Climate Change Awareness
Climate change, its effects and adaptation
and mitigation measures have received
much attention in developed nations,
however, its awareness, especially in
developing countries, have not been given
the much-needed attention it requires
(Ovuyovwiroye, 2013; Saka, 2017). This
has likely led to the low acceptability of
climate change as an environmental
problem in most rural areas of developing
countries. In addition, it might likely be
why most rural people still indulge in
activities such as bush burning and
deforestation to produce charcoal used in
cooking. These activities have contributed
to the cause of climate change and the poor
adaptive capacity of most people living in
these rural areas. Several studies have
shown that the general awareness of climate
change is incredibly low in both urban and
rural areas in Nigeria (Akpomi & Vipene,
2016; Harmer & Rahman, 2014; Ogunbode
et al., 2019; Ovuyovwiroye, 2013). This
can be attributed to several factors such as
education, political, social and economic
factors. For instance, the level of income is
more likely to inhibit where and what kind
of information people receive regarding
certain issues (such as climate change)
(Ogunbode et al., 2019). Also, where
people reside can influence their perception
of climate change as high-income earners
are more likely to adapt to changes and
might not be negatively impacted. This can
shape the thoughts and perception of people
about issues such as climate change and
environmental degradation (Haider, 2019;
Saka, 2017).
Research Methodology
The method adopted for this study was a
quantitative method using a descriptive
survey design. It consisted of a survey
conducted using a questionnaire that was
distributed online. The higher institutions
targeted were federal and state colleges of
education, polytechnics and universities
within the northeast region. The study
sampled students in tertiary institutions of
learning in the North-eastern part of Nigeria
where 400 responses were retrieved and
analysed using frequency and percentages.
The data were presented in a Tabular and
graphical form for more clarity and
discussed solely based on the responses.
The survey questionnaire was designed in
three sections. Section one covered the
respondents' general biography covering
items such as gender, age, type of higher
Volume 14 | Article 2 | May, 2021
16
Philip G. Malgwi and Williams K. Joshua
Assessment of the Perception and Awareness of Climate Change and the Influence of Information Amongst
Tertiary Education Students in North-East Nigeria
institution the respondent attends, level of
study and whether the respondent'
background is science or arts. The second
section covered the respondents' awareness
and perception of climate change while the
third section covered the availability and
accessibility of information regarding
climate change to the respondents.
Results and Discussion
This section presents the survey outcome
by outlining and graphically presenting the
survey results using percentages and
discussed under the three sections with
specific sub-headings to argue the problems
associated with climate change awareness,
perception and the availability and
accessibility of information amongst
students in higher education institutions
within North-eastern Nigeria.
Figure 1a: Type of institutions attended by respondents while 1b: the level at which the
respondents are studying
Section One: General Biography of
Respondents
This section covers questions about the
respondents' biography. From the responses
collected, 60.5% of the respondents were
female while 39.5% were male. Age
distribution indicates that the age bracket of
24-29 (41.75%) constituted the majority of
responses followed by 18-23 (33.5%),
while 30-35, 36-41 and those above 42 were
18.5%, 4.75% and 1.5% respectively. In
addition, the orientation of the respondents
shows that 54.25% are studying science-
related subjects while 45.75% are studying
arts-based subjects at the three tertiary
institutions of learning. Students from
Universities showed higher responses with
68.5% (Fig 1a) while the majority are
studying for a bachelors degree (Fig 1b).
Volume 14 | Article 2 | May, 2021
17
(a). the type of tertiary institution attended (b). the level of studies of the respondents
Philip G. Malgwi and Williams K. Joshua
Assessment of the Perception and Awareness of Climate Change and the Influence of Information Amongst
Tertiary Education Students in North-East Nigeria
Section Two: Climate Change Awareness
and Perception of Respondents
This section presents the level of climate
change awareness and perception of the
respondents. Responses on the view of
respondents regarding changes in the
weather pattern within their respective
environments show that quite a number of
them are aware that the weather patterns
have been changing over the past decade.
Although, there are still responses that
either do not believe the weather pattern is
changing or unsure if there are significant
changes in their environment. This
corresponds to findings from Agbor (2014);
Ekpoh and Ekpoh (2011); Ishaya and
Agbaje (2008); Olorunfemi (2010). The
implication of such perception especially in
the fight against climate change is that they
can slow or retard progress in mitigation
and adaptation plans (Harmer & Rahman,
2014). Ignorance on climate issues
increases vulnerability and the number of
vulnerable persons, and is likely to make
more severe the impacts due to extreme
events In addition, extremely high
temperatures with an intense but short rainy
season (Fig 2a & 2b) has been one of the
major impacts of climate change within the
study area. Students identified this to be the
main cause of drought, flood and heat wave
the region has been experiencing in the past
decade. Consequently, awareness also
plays a vital role in behavioural changes
especially in activities within both urban
and rural areas. The more the number of the
informed population on climate change, the
greater the actions to reverse or mitigate its
consequences. More so, with an informed
population, policies and legislation will
likely be implemented and easily enforced
thereby leading to efficientmitigation of
climate impacts. This is true because it is
often difficult for the general populace to
decide on issues they have little or
insufficient knowledge about (Agbor,
2014).
Volume 14 | Article 2 | May, 2021
18
Figure 2a: the changes currently experienced by respondents in their environment While
2b: Weather changes that affect the respondents' environment the most
(a). Changes in weather pattern within the
respondent's environment
(b). Changes in weather that affected the
respondent's environment the most
Philip G. Malgwi and Williams K. Joshua
Assessment of the Perception and Awareness of Climate Change and the Influence of Information Amongst
Tertiary Education Students in North-East Nigeria
Drought, flood and high temperatures
resulting in heat waves are the three main
changes which the respondents believe
affect them the most (Fig 2b). The
respondents indicate that drought
occurrences are not frequent as flood and
high temperatures as it only occurs yearly
or once in two years. The result shows that
flood and high temperatures either occur
always or often with percentages over 45%
and 35% respectively (Fig 3). These results
can have negative consequences on food
Although there are others with a view that
some of these impacts are rare and hence do
not constitute effects that should be of
concern, they all agreed that if these
impacts occur frequently, it can likely deter
development especially the sustainable
development goals (SDGs). Consequently,
the situations regarding those who are
either unsure or believe the rare
occurrences are not significant enough,
calls for a rigorous campaign to educate and
create awareness especially on the dangers
production as both flood and high
temperature can destroy crops and deter the
planting of crops which will eventually
impact food security (Harmer & Rahman
2014). In addition, both floods and heat
waves can affect the health and well-being
of communities. Overall, these impacts can
affect the sustainable development within
the regions impacted with devastating
consequences on vulnerable people.
of activities that can contribute to climate
change (Oyero et al., 2018). Flood, drought
and heat-wave are now a major challenge in
urban areas. Recently, flood within the
urban cities has swept houses and claimed
lives leading to the destruction of property
worth billions of naira. These are all results
of human activities that have been in
practice for decades within both rural and
urban communities. Farmers and most rural
communities have indulged in activities
like deforestation and bush burning but
Volume 14 | Article 2 | May, 2021
19
Figure 3: The frequency and occurrence of weather patterns within the respondents'
environment
Philip G. Malgwi and Williams K. Joshua
Assessment of the Perception and Awareness of Climate Change and the Influence of Information Amongst
Tertiary Education Students in North-East Nigeria
these are just a fraction of the causes as
urban communities can likely contribute
much more harm through Green House Gas
(GHG) emissions than the rural areas.
E l e c t r i c i t y g e n e r a t i o n , m o d e s
transportation and poor waste management
within the urban centres are constituting
climate change at an alarming rate as
compared to rural areas.
Se ct io n T h ree : Av ail ab ili t y an d
Accessibility of Climate Change related
Information
This section highlights the respondents'
access to information relating to climate
Availability of information can likely
influence how knowledgeable students are
on the issues confronting their respective
environment, however, how accessible
these media of information are, plays an
even more important role. Most students
access information using their phones and
the results show that social media
contributes to the information they acquire.
Although most students do not trust social
media platforms, they still use them heavily
change, climate change mitigation and
adaptation. The responses indicate that
there are several media of accessing climate
change information. These media include
journal articles, textbooks, newspapers,
radio, television, government, Non-
Governmental Organisations (NGOs),
teachers, social media, family and friends.
Although these mediums of information are
generally used by the respondents, not all
are available and easily accessible by
students. The results indicate that social
media (30% & 32%) are the most available
and accessible source of information to
students (Fig 4).
of its accessibility. The result shows that
Journal articles and textbooks are the most
trusted media of information, but they are
not easily accessible to students. Students
indicated that they are always saddled with
challenges while accessing information.
The cost of internet data subscription
constituted the major constraint students
face in accessing information (Fig 5). In
addition, the cost of journal subscriptions
and textbooks are also major challenges.
Volume 14 | Article 2 | May, 2021
20
Figure 4: Available and most Accessible medium of information for students
Philip G. Malgwi and Williams K. Joshua
Assessment of the Perception and Awareness of Climate Change and the Influence of Information Amongst
Tertiary Education Students in North-East Nigeria
The general implication of the study is that
information is vital in the fight against
climate change. The information must be
prioritised especially for students whose
study can influence the success of the
Sustainable Development Goals. Most of
these students come from rural and remote
areas where people are unaware of the
consequences of actions such as
deforestation and bush burning. Ensuring
these students are informed and aware of
these negative consequences of their
activities on the environment can play a
vital role in assisting them to educate their
respective communities on the dangers of
some of these activities. Tertiary
institutions must as a matter of urgency
ensure that libraries are equipped with up-
to-date books and journals that students can
easily access during the cause of their
studies. More so, climate change must be
treated beyond just as an environmental
issue but rather as political, social and
economical issue. Climate change touches
almost every governmental sector because
it affects health, education, water, energy,
t h e e c o n o m y a n d e v e r y o t h e r
developmental sector in society.
Conclusion
The study shows that majority of the
students are aware of the changes in the
climate as the frequency of their
occurrences affects their daily livelihood.
Information on this is available to them,
with some restraints in its accessibility.
Climate change being a great challenge to
the global community is a vital issue that
must be addressed at the grass-root by
making information available and
accessible to both the rural and urban
populace. To enhance the coping
mechanisms of the populace, information
rightfully provided via the right sources at
the right time and place is needful
especially in this 21st century. This will
ensure that communities are aware of the
Volume 14 | Article 2 | May, 2021
21
Figure 5: Available and most Accessible medium of information for students
Philip G. Malgwi and Williams K. Joshua
Assessment of the Perception and Awareness of Climate Change and the Influence of Information Amongst
Tertiary Education Students in North-East Nigeria
share challenging situations and
questions on climate issues.
4. Activities such as tree planting and
waste management should be
incorporated into the institutions
yearly programs and ensure
students are actively involved.
5. Departmental unions can come
together to organise sessions to help
create awareness. This way the
younger generation are carried
along in the fight against climate
change
Acknowledgement
We wish to acknowledge the efforts of Engr.
John Bassah for his feedback on the initial
dra ft . We a ls o a ck no wl ed ge t he
contribution of Kucheli for proofreading
the manuscript at both the first and final
draft.
Declaration and Funding
The authors Philip Gana Malgwi and
Williams Kwari Joshua declare that we
received no funding for this research and
hence states that we have no conflict of
interest.
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Recommendation
To effectively combat climate change and
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Information for our teaming students is key
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1. The higher education institutions
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Answer sessions to create a
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Volume 14 | Article 2 | May, 2021
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Philip G. Malgwi and Williams K. Joshua
Assessment of the Perception and Awareness of Climate Change and the Influence of Information Amongst
Tertiary Education Students in North-East Nigeria
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