Initial qualitative research across all seven countries showed that awareness and understanding of the term “climate change” was relatively low. As a result, at the research design stage, Climate Asia decided not to frame the research approach primarily around the concept of climate change. Instead, drawing from the qualitative research, the survey questions were grounded in concepts that people were more likely to relate to and understand. This approach, favoured by a significant number of in-depth interviews with experts and opinion-formers, focused on the effects people notice and believe are associated with climate change and climate variability.
Rather than asking directly about the impact of climate change on respondents’ lives, questions were linked to observed changes. To do this, the questionnaire started by asking about changes that people noticed in weather, resource availability (such as food), water availability and agricultural productivity. Questions such as “Have you heard of climate change?” were only introduced at the end of the questionnaire.
Climate Asia’s approach to research differs from existing surveys on public understanding by moving beyond asking about knowledge and awareness of climate change to exploring people’s response to these changes. To do this most effectively, the project chose four main areas of impact: water shortage and availability, food security and availability, energy and fuel availability, and preparing for extreme weather events. In order to manage the length of time it took to complete the survey, each respondent was asked about two areas of impact.
To understand how might be preparing for extreme weather and responding to decreases in the availability of water, food, energy and fuel, researchers put together a list of possible actions people might take. These were selected on the basis that they were simple, did not require significant additional resources and would be applicable across most of the region. For example, to tackle water shortage the following responses were chosen:
- Storing/saving water (for instance, collecting rainwater)
- Recycling water/re-using waste water
- Making water safe to drink (for instance boiling, strain through cloth, use water filter)
- Finding a new water supply (for instance digging wells, installing hand pumps)
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