Communities’ perceptions of health hazards induced by climate change in Mount Darwin district, Zimbabwe
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Climate change contributes toward many global challenges, such as increases in diseases in some communities, thereby accelerating health hazards to disasters. Establishing the extent to which local communities understand and perceive climate change and related health hazards is important for effective disaster risk management strategies. The objective of this study was to investigate communities’ perceptions of health hazards induced by climate change in Mount Darwin district of Zimbabwe. This was in the light that besides the visible indications that climate is changing, the local people still perceive the climate change phenomenon as mystical or even a non-event. The study was situated within the social capital theory contextualised within the climate change, disaster management and the knowledge and perception realm constructed through social relationships, networks and interactions. A mixed-method research approach was used to assess the extent of knowledge and perceptions related to climate change and climate change-related health hazards. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to survey 204 participants from 10 wards in Mount Darwin, Zimbabwe. Respondents were purposively selected as they were mostly characterised by high vulnerability levels. While 38% of the respondents were not aware of climate change, 7% correctly identified climate change as caused by both natural and man-made forces. Most (89%) of the respondents stated that hazards occur mainly because of meteorological and hydrological causes. The study therefore recommended further education and awareness programmes to deepen community understanding of climate change. Despite the communities having some knowledge gaps and lacking an in-depth understanding of how climate change alters disease, there was some vital information within the Mount Darwin community that could have been used in local disaster risk management initiatives.