Households' perception of climate change and human health risks: a community perspective

Environ Health. 2012 Jan 11;11:1. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-11-1.

Abstract

Background: Bangladesh has been identified as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world concerning the adverse effects of climate change (CC). However, little is known about the perception of CC from the community, which is important for developing adaptation strategies.

Methods: The study was a cross-sectional survey of respondents from two villages--one from the northern part and the other from the southern part of Bangladesh. A total of 450 households were selected randomly through multistage sampling completed a semi-structure questionnaire. This was supplemented with 12 focus group discussions (FGDs) and 15 key informant interviews (KIIs).

Results: Over 95 percent of the respondents reported that the heat during the summers had increased and 80.2 percent reported that rainfall had decreased, compared to their previous experiences. Approximately 65 percent reported that winters were warmer than in previous years but they still experienced very erratic and severe cold during the winter for about 5-7 days, which restricted their activities with very destructive effect on agricultural production, everyday life and the health of people. FGDs and KIIs also reported that overall winters were warmer. Eighty point two percent, 72.5 percent and 54.7 percent survey respondents perceived that the frequency of water, heat and cold related diseases/health problems, respectively, had increased compared to five to ten years ago. FGDs and KIIs respondents were also reported the same.

Conclusions: Respondents had clear perceptions about changes in heat, cold and rainfall that had occurred over the last five to ten years. Local perceptions of climate variability (CV) included increased heat, overall warmer winters, reduced rainfall and fewer floods. The effects of CV were mostly negative in terms of means of living, human health, agriculture and overall livelihoods. Most local perceptions on CV are consistent with the evidence regarding the vulnerability of Bangladesh to CC. Such findings can be used to formulate appropriate sector programs and interventions. The systematic collection of such information will allow scientists, researchers and policy makers to design and implement appropriate adaptation strategies for CC in countries that are especially vulnerable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bangladesh
  • Climate Change*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rain
  • Risk
  • Rural Population
  • Weather