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Do people accurately report droughts? Comparison of instrument-measured and national survey data in Kenya


  • Andrew M. Linke

    (University of Utah
    Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO))

  • Frank D. W. Witmer

    (University of Alaska Anchorage)

  • John O’Loughlin

    (University of Colorado Boulder)


We evaluate the agreement between drought perceptions of two nationally representative samples of Kenyans (2014 and 2018) and instrument-measured rainfall and vegetation (IMRV) change. Our work adds to a growing body of research designed to evaluate people’s awareness and understanding of climate change and global warming. Relatively few existing studies in the developing world validate weather perceptions against meteorological observations, despite heavy reliance among these populations on rainfed agriculture and the importance of effective adaptation strategies for household livelihoods. We find a strong positive relationship between IMRV data and reporting among the 175 survey enumeration areas for 2800 respondents. Ours is the first study to establish such a definitive result using a research design that minimizes the effects of anomalous weather in any single year. Researchers who rely upon reported historical weather conditions can thus be more assured that their fieldwork informants recollect weather accurately. This awareness of recent changes in weather should facilitate the implementation of policies designed to mitigate long-term climate change impacts in sub-Saharan Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew M. Linke & Frank D. W. Witmer & John O’Loughlin, 2020. "Do people accurately report droughts? Comparison of instrument-measured and national survey data in Kenya," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 162(3), pages 1143-1160, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:162:y:2020:i:3:d:10.1007_s10584-020-02724-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-020-02724-3

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    1. Abiodun A. Ogundeji & Collins C. Okolie, 2022. "Perception and Adaptation Strategies of Smallholder Farmers to Drought Risk: A Scientometric Analysis," Agriculture, MDPI, vol. 12(8), pages 1-18, July.

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