Overview of Contextual Factors When Designing and Implementing Climate Risk Communication with Rural Communities in the Global South

  • Elvis Modikela NkoanaEmail author
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Climate change is the biggest threat of the 21st century. Perception of the climate change risk is an important step towards coping with and adaptation to it. The perception of risk is influenced by numerous factors among them-risk communication. Successful communication of climate change risk, like any other environmental risk, hinges on many factors. Careful consideration of these factors when planning risk communication initiatives is crucial particularly in developing countries steeped in cultures, customs, traditional ecological knowledge, and poverty. This theoretical paper uses a traditional literature review and backward snowballing techniques to highlight the important factors that need to be considered when planning and implementing climate change risk communication exercises in rural communities in a developing country context. This chapter is crucial in the context of scientific findings that climate change adaptation tools-a form of decision support tool-are poorly designed to engage rural communities in adaptation efforts. A well designed climate change risk communication initiative represents an entry point for scientists and practitioners to engage with rural people on climate change adaptation.


Climate change Developing countries Frames Narratives Participatory integrated assessment Risk communication Rural communities Traditional ecological knowledge Typology Visualisation Worldviews 


  1. Adger, W. N., Goulden, S., Dessai, M., Hulme, M., Lorenzoni, I., Nelson, D. R., et al. (2009). Are there social limits to adaptation to climate change? Climatic Change, 93, 335–354. Scholar
  2. Alexander, C., Bynum, N., Johnson, E., King, U., Mustonen, T., Neofotis, P., … Vicarelli, M. (2011). Linking indigenous and scientific knowledge of climate change. BioScience, 61(6), 477–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arnstein, S. R. (1969). A ladder of citizen participation. Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 35(4), 216–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Artur, L., & Hilhorst, D. (2012). Everyday realities of climate change adaptation in Mozambique. Global Environmental Change, 22(2), 529–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bryan, E., Deressa, T. T., Gbetibouo, G. A., & Ringler, C. (2009). Adaptation to climate change in Ethiopia and South Africa: Options and constraints. Environmental Science & Policy, 12, 413–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Codjoe, S. N. A., Owusu, G., & Burkett, V. (2014). Perception, experience, and indigenous knowledge of climate change and variability: The case of Accra, a sub-Saharan African city. Regional Environmental Change, 14(1), 369–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dessai, S., Adger, W. N., Hulme, M., Turnpenny, J., Köhler, J., & Warren, R. (2004). Defining and experiencing dangerous climate change: An editorial essay. Climatic Change, 64, 11–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Doyle, J. (2007). Picturing the clima (c) tic: Greenpeace and the representational politics of climate change communication. Science as Culture, 16(2), 129–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Egeru, A. (2012). Role of indigenous knowledge in climate change adaptation: A case study of the Teso Sub-Region, Eastern Uganda. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, 11(2), 217–224.Google Scholar
  10. Frank, E., Eakin, H., & López-Carr, D. (2010). Risk perception and adaptation to climate risk in the coffee sector of Chiapas, Mexico. In: Conference on international research on food security, natural resource management and rural development. ETH Zurich, September 14–16, 2010.Google Scholar
  11. Gaillard, J.-C. (2008). Alternative paradigms of volcanic risk perception: The case of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 172, 315–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Grothmann, T., & Patt, A. (2005). Adaptive capacity and human cognition: The process of individual adaptation to climate change. Global Environmental Change, 15, 199–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. IPCC. (2012). Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation. In C. B. Field, V. Barros, T. F. Stocker, D. Qin, D. J. Dokken, K. L. Ebi, M. D. Mastrandrea, K. J. Mach, G.-K. Plattner, S. K. Allen, M. Tignor, & P. M. Midgley (Eds.), A special report of working groups I and II of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (p. 582). Cambridge, UK, New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Leiserowitz, A. (2006). Climate change risk perception and policy preferences: The role of affect, imagery, and values. Climatic Change, 77(1–2), 45–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lemos, M. C., Finan, T. J., Fox, R. W., Nelson, D. R., & Tucker, J. (2002). The use of seasonal climate forecasting in policymaking: Lessons from Northeast Brazil. Climatic Change, 55(4), 479–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Luseno, W. K., McPeak, J. G., Barrett, C. B., Little, P. D., & Gebru, G. (2003). Assessing the value of climate forecast information for pastoralists: Evidence from Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya. World Development, 31(9), 1477–1494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Maponya, P., Mpandeli, S., & Oduniyi, S. (2013). Climate change awareness in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Journal of Agricultural Science, 5(10), 273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Marx, S. M., Weber, E. U., Orlove, B. S., Leiserowitz, A., Krantz, D. H., Roncoli, C., et al. (2007). Communication and mental processes: Experiential and analytic processing of uncertain climate information. Global Environmental Change, 17, 47–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mengistu, D. K. (2011). Farmers’ perception and knowledge on climate change and their coping strategies to the related hazards: Case study from Adiha, central Tigray, Ethiopia. Agricultural Sciences, 2(02), 138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Morton, T. A., Rabinovich, A., Marshall, D., & Bretschneider, P. (2011). The future that may (or may not) come: How framing changes responses to uncertainty in climate change communications. Global Environmental Change, 21(1), 103–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Niang, I., Ruppel, O. C., Abdrabo, M. A., Essel, A., Lennard, C., Padgham, J., et al. (2014). Africa. In V. R. Barros, C. B. Field, D. J. Dokken, M. D. Mastrandrea, K. J. Mach, T. E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K. L. Ebi, Y. O. Estrada, R. C. Genova, B. Girma, E. S. Kissel, A. N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P. R. Mastrandrea, & L. L. White (Eds.), Climate change 2014: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part B—Regional aspects. Contribution of working group II to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (pp. 1199–1265). Cambridge, UK, New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Nicholson-Cole, S. A. (2005). Representing climate change futures: A critique on the use of images for visual communication. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 29(3), 255–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nkoana, E. M., Waas, T., Verbruggen, A., Burman, C. J., & Hugé, J. (2016). Analytic framework for assessing participation processes and outcomes of climate change adaptation tools. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nyong, A., Adesina, F., & Elasha, B. O. (2007). The value of indigenous knowledge in climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in the African Sahel. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 12(5), 787–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Paton, D., Johnston, D. M., Beddington, M. S., Lai, C-D., & Houghton, B. F. (2001). Direct and vicarious experience of volcanic hazards: Implications for risk perception and adjustment adoption. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 58–63.Google Scholar
  26. Paton, D., Smith, L., Daly, M., & Johnston, D. (2008). Risk perception and volcanic hazard mitigation: Individual and social perspectives. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 172, 179–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Patt, A. G., & Schroter, D. (2008). Perceptions of climate risk in Mozambique: Implications for the success of adaptation strategies. Global Environmental Change, 18, 458–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Perry, R. W., & Lindell, M. K. (2008). Volcanic risk perception and adjustment in a multi-hazard environment. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 172, 170–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Roberts, D. (2008). Thinking globally, acting locally—Institutionalizing climate change at the local government level in Durban, South Africa. Environment and Urbanization, 20(2), 521–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Roncoli, C., Ingram, K., & Kirshen, P. (2002). Reading the rains: Local knowledge and rainfall forecasting in Burkina Faso. Society & Natural Resources, 15(5), 409–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Salter, J., Robinson, J., & Wiek, A. (2010). Participatory methods of integrated assessment—A review. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 1(5), 697–717.Google Scholar
  32. Schlumpf, C., Behringer, J., Dürrenberger, G., & Pahl-Wostl, C. (1999). The personal CO2 calculator: A modeling tool for participatory integrated assessment methods. Modeling and Environmental Assessment, 4(1), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schmuck, H. (2000). “An act of Allah”: Religious explanations for floods in Bangladesh as survival strategy. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 18(1), 85–96.Google Scholar
  34. Siebenhüner, B., & Barth, V. (2005). The role of computer modeling in participatory integrated assessments. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 25(4), 367–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Spence, A., & Pidgeon, N. (2010). Framing and communicating climate change: The effects of distance and outcome frame manipulations. Global Environmental Change, 20(4), 656–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Speranza, C. I., Kiteme, B., Ambenje, P., Wiesmann, U., & Makali, S. (2010). Indigenous knowledge related to climate variability and change: Insights from droughts in semi-arid areas of former Makueni District, Kenya. Climatic Change, 100(2), 295–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1985). The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice. Environmental impact assessment, technology assessment, and risk analysis (pp. 107–129). Berlin. Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Van Aalst, M. K., Cannon, T., & Burton, I. (2008). Community level adaptation to climate change: The potential role of participatory community risk assessment. Global Environmental Change, 18(1), 165–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Van Opstal, M., & Hugé, J. (2013). Knowledge for sustainable development: A worldviews perspective. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 15(3), 687–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Voinov, A., & Bousquet, F. (2010). Modelling with stakeholders. Environmental Modelling and Software, 25(11), 1268–1281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Weber, E. U. (2006). Experience-based and description-based perceptions of long-term risk: Why global warming does not scare us (yet). Climatic Change, 77, 103–120. Scholar
  42. Weber, E. U., & Hsee, C. (1998). Cross-cultural differences in risk perception, but cross-cultural similarities in attitudes towards perceived risk. Management Science, 44(9), 1205–1217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wiid, N., & Ziervogel, G. (2012). Adapting to climate change in South Africa: Commercial farmers’ perception of and response to changing climate. South African Geographical Journal, 94(2), 152–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. World Bank. (2012). Mainstreaming adaptation to climate change in agriculture and natural resources management projects-guidance notes (pp. 1–24). New York. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South Africa (UNISA)PretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium

Personalised recommendations