More Kenyans are worried about going hungry than being attacked by terrorists, a humanitarian survey indicates.
According to the Aurora Humanitarian Index (AHI), a global public opinion survey that examines public perceptions of major humanitarian issues, up to 67 percent of the respondents were concerned about hunger, the highest proportion across all the countries surveyed.
The Humanitarian Index was conducted between 21 February and 19 March. It is a compilation of 6,500 people in 12 countries, including Kenya.
In reality, what is ailing Kenya at the moment is hunger. According to World Vision Kenya, about 2.7 million people including 700,000 children under five years, are in dire need of assistance as they are facing starvation and possible famine due to lack of food and water. The east African nation is currently experiencing delayed onset of long rains and inadequate rainfall where it has rained. The food crisis in the country is further worsened by dry conditions across the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, leading to poor livestock productivity, delay in land preparations and planting.
Although Kenya is under constant terror threat since it entered Somalia through the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), security levels in the country have remained stable for the last few months. There have been minimal attacks occurring mainly in the north-eastern border with Somalia. Recent attacks have left more than fifteen people dead. The attacks organized by the Somali jihadist group al Shabaab targeted security officers.
For these reasons, Kenyans feel more threatened by the widespread hunger, which is predicted to worsen affecting 4 million people by July, 2017 if it doesn’t rain by then. According to the AHI, 60 percent of Kenyan respondents highlighted terrorism as an issue of concern.
Asked about the issues surrounding refugees, which were majorly in the public discourse last year, Kenyan respondents showed positive views and attitudes towards them. Up to 87 percent agreed that they would welcome refugees in Kenya. Kenya has the highest proportion of respondents (50 percent) who believe that the country is made a better place by people coming to live there from other countries. Although a huge number of Kenyans believe that refugees deserve help, 63 percent think that the country has taken on too many refugees, putting Kenyan culture at risk.
The attitudes of young people across all surveyed countries offer signs of hope. Young people between 18-34 years are seen as the population that is confident in their ability to bring change in the society.
“The sense of apathy towards humanitarianism today highlights an urgent need for engagement in every sector,” said Ruben Vardanyan, co-founder of the AHI and United World College at Dilijan. “However, this negativity is counter-balanced by the incredibly positive attitudes of youth towards humanitarianism and the individual impact on the refugee crisis. All of us need to educate and motivate the young people around the world so they not only understand their capacity for meaningful impact, but are inspired to act upon it.”
Other issues of concern which come out in the Index include the disparity between the rich and the poor which stands at 61 percent, and migration (21 percent).
Although Kenyans are less concerned about terrorism, globally, and for the second year in a row, terrorism is cited as the undisputed top humanitarian issue at 63 percent, followed by the widening gap between the rich and poor, hunger, climate change and forced migration.
Further, the Index shows that the European Union and the United Nations are perceived as the most capable bodies to address the ongoing crisis. Unfortunately, confidence in global organizations across the board has declined since 2016.
The global 2017 survey, led by research partner Kantar Public and interpreted by academic partner Université Libre de Bruxelles, will be presented on Sunday, May 28 in Yerevan, Armenia during the Aurora Dialogues, a platform for the world’s leading humanitarians, academics, philanthropists, business leaders and civil society to bring awareness to today’s most pressing humanitarian challenges.
Image credit: Mark Nelson / ITV News