Climate change awareness in rural and township communities of Limpopo Province, South Africa

Elvis Modikela Nkoana, of the University of Antwerp, Belgium, conducted focus group discussions in rural and township communities of Limpopo Province, South Africa to gauge climate change awareness and risk perception.

Elvis Modikela Nkoana

Elvis Modikela Nkoana


Rural and township communities in Limpopo Province are affected by floods and droughts caused by climate change and climate variability. Non-climatic stressors (such as poverty) conspire with climatic stressors (floods and droughts) to increase the risk to these communities. Scientific evidence suggests that formal and non-formal education can support climate adaptation through awareness, perception, and action. Despite this, there has been little effort to investigate the awareness of climate change and variability, risk perception, and forms of capital in rural and township communities of Limpopo Province.


We selected village and township communities in the Polokwane region (economic hub of Limpopo Province). Village unemployment stood at 14.8% and households without income are 7.6% of the population. Subsistence agriculture, particularly maize cultivation, is common in the villages of the region. Township unemployment is 11.2% and households without income at 25%. Subsistence agriculture is not common in township areas due to lack of access to land.

We conducted 13 focus group discussions with participants from village and township areas. The participants were distributed equally by age, gender, and academic achievement. The village group had not participated in environmental education, whereas the township group had participated in environmental education through the Eco-schools program. The Eco schools program has 1,200 schools registered worldwide and educates students on topics such as biodiversity, climate change, water, waste, etc. We used the Social Network Analysis Tool, Future-Backward Scenarios Tool, Problem Tree, and Hazard, Impact, and Vulnerability Matrix with the focus group participants.


The results showed that people are concerned about short-term risks (such as crime) more than long-term risks (such as climate change). Awareness of climate change affects perceptions of major risks within a community, and of the linkages between different risks. The results also demonstrated that different forms of capital exist in village and township communities, and that the forms of social capital and physical capital also differ. The task of risk sharing and resource pooling is fulfilled by communities in rural areas but mainly by private and public stakeholders, such as insurance companies and police, in township communities.


Nadejda Komendantova-Amann, Risk, Policy and Vulnerability Program, IIASA

Vain Jarbandham, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Elvis Modikela Nkoana, of the University of Antwerp, Belgium, is a citizen of South Africa and was funded by the IIASA South African National Member Organization during the SA-YSSP.

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.   

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Last edited: 01 February 2016

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