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Assessing Climate Change Perceptions

This activity assesses communities’ perceptions of climate change and identifies the influential factors as well as its related current and future consequences.
Multiple Authors

The following description of this tool and details on how and why it is was applied exists as part of the ‘Adaptation Toolkit’ that was created collaboratively by SEI and ENDA.

Brief Description

This activity is to assess communities’ perceptions of climate change identifying the influential factors as well as its related current and future consequences. This activity is organized in a form of group discussions with a total number of participants between 10 and 15. It can be organized at both the community and institutional levels.

At the community level, it is appropriate to have participants from different livelihood groups (farmers, fishermen, oyster collectors etc). Participants can be selected by community leaders and the activity may be conducted with men’s and women’s groups separately to identify gender differences. This tool can also be used to assess the perceptions of local government and national service providers in the community such as agricultural extension agents, meteorological service and veterinary officers. This exercise can be completed in an hour.

Specific Objectives

  • This activity is to help local people unleash their understanding on climate change dynamics, identifying the multiple influential factors and consequences in the context of the site.

Expected Outcomes

  • Participants have shared knowledge on the dynamics of the climate change phenomenon; understand part of the multiple causes2, local contributing factors and the consequences.


1. Discuss briefly with participants what they think climate change is and identify how it is called in their local language.

2. Allow them to sketch an object that represent climate change or write climate change (in their local language if possible) on a post-it note and paste at central point on a flip chart

3. Allow participants identify some factors they perceive to be the causes and influential factors of climate change

4. Each factor should be written on post-it notes and pasted on the same flip chart but at left-side of the post-it note (with the inscription of climate change).

5. Allow participants to show the linkages between the causal or influential factors with arrows.

6. Identify the consequences of climate change and write each on a one post-it note and paste all at the right side of the central post-it. The color of the post-it notes for the consequences should be a different from that of the causes.

7. Again separate negative consequences from positive consequences by using different colors of the post-it notes.

8. Rearrange these consequences showing linkages between them by drawing arrows. Example of this output is shown in figure 13.

Figure 13: Assessing climate change perceptions in EBO town, Gambia
Figure 14: A map of climate change perceptions (from researchers training in The Gambia)

Resources/ Facilities

  • Post-it notes of four different colours (each for the climate change inscription, causes, positive and negative consequences)
  • Pens/makers
  • Large sheet of paper or a flipchart
  • A note book and pen to take notes

Expected Outputs

The tool produces a pictorial map of local perceptions on climate change outlining it causes and consequences and showing which of these factors are related / connected


2. Expected responses should be what participants perceive to be the causes or contributing factors and not necessarily what is scientifically proven.

Related resources

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