Africans and food security: what do opinion polls tells us?

April 7, 2011 4 By admin

I don’t normally associate opinion polls with development (apart from the exhaustive UK and other market research opinion pollconducted by our campaigners) but in recent weeks a couple of powerpoints have swum in front of my glazed eyes showing some interesting results from opinion polls in large numbers of poor countries, conducted by Gallup and Globescan, two polling companies.

Gallup does an annual ‘world poll’ in 100 countries and this year focussed on food security, especially in Sub Saharan Africa. Findings?

Sub-Saharan Africans perceive agriculture (20%) and jobs (19%) as the most important issues for their governments to address

–Two-thirds (66%) of sub-Saharan Africans say their government is not doing enough to help people get food

–Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) say there have been times in the last 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy the food that they or their family needed

–Over a third of sub-Saharan Africans say they or their families have gone without food in the last 12 months several times, many times or always

–Sub-Saharan Africans across 26 countries rank reducing poverty and reducing hunger as the top two most important goals

The full powerpoint is here. More from Gallup on how Africans rank the MDGs here

Meanwhile Globescan annually surveys 26,000 adults in 26 countries, and their latest round up finds the following:

A significant decline in enthusiasm for free market capitalism

NGOs remain the most trusted institutions – must be all that high quality research…. – followed by (in descending order), ‘people in general in this country’, the UN, large national companies, religious groups, global companies, the press/media and bottom of the heap, national governments.

The most serious global problem in the eyes of the public is extreme poverty, followed by corruption. Least Globescan global problem rankingimportant of those suggested are religious fundamentalism and international migration (so either the populist politicians, or the pollsters have got something seriously wrong….)

Concern has ebbed on many environmental issues, particularly climate change, but interestingly, has fallen quickest in the rich countries, so public concern over what’s happening to the planet is now greater outside the OECD than in the traditional home territory of the environmental movement.

I don’t set huge store by these attempts to take the global pulse, but they are thought-provoking if nothing else. They also offer a potential solution to INGOs’ poor track record in doing longitudinal surveys to track how poor people’s lives change over the long term – why don’t we sit the pollsters down in a room with some of the participatory research gurus and come up with a stripped down, periodic version of the World Bank’s epic, but very complex and expensive ‘Voices of the Poor’ exercise – any takers? [h/t Andrew Rzepa, Gallup and Doug Miller, Globescan]