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Comparing climate change perceptions and meteorological data in rural West Africa to improve the understanding of household decisions to migrate


Largely dependent on rain-fed agriculture, the West African populations could be severely impacted by climate change and variability. In this paper, we performed a literature review relating to perceptions of climate change and variability in West Africa, followed by an in-depth comparison between perceptions by rural dwellers of Burkina Faso and trends in meteorological data to discuss the importance of perceptions vis-à-vis climate trends in migration decision. Results showed that respondents perceived increasing temperature and worsening rainfall conditions over 1988–2007 matching with findings of previous studies but inconsistent with the trends observed in rainfall data. Given that climate change is recognized as a key driver of mobility on the one hand and the fact that climate change perceptions influence decision to migrate on the other hand, our results suggest to jointly include perceptions and climate data in future research on environmental migration in order to improve the understanding of household’s decision in response to climate change.

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  1. African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis

  2. The station of Gaoua was only used for rainfall trends because anomalies were detected in temperature data


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The authors gratefully acknowledge the Direction Générale de la Météorologie du Burkina Faso for providing climate data, Christine Pagnoulle for English proofreading and the three anonymous reviewers for their insightful reading and constructive suggestions.


This research has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under grant agreement no. 603864.

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Correspondence to Florence De Longueville.

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De Longueville, F., Ozer, P., Gemenne, F. et al. Comparing climate change perceptions and meteorological data in rural West Africa to improve the understanding of household decisions to migrate. Climatic Change 160, 123–141 (2020).

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  • Adaptation
  • Burkina Faso
  • Climate change
  • Migration
  • Perception