The results of Africa.com’s latest survey were unambiguous. All of the respondents from Kenya and South Africa blamed the current famine in the Horn of Africa on the policies of the specific governments involved: Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti.
Nigerians were split, with a third blaming individual countries and two-thirds saying the blame lay with international aid organizations.
Americans and Britons were willing to share the blame among the African Union and developed countries in the west, but the majority also cited the Horn of Africa countries themselves (80 percent of Britons and 59.6 percent of Americans).
Among the numerous respondents, some took a more nuanced view about the sources of the famine: “Terrorists in Somalia are preventing daily farming activities; importation of US food is preventing African countries from developing their own commercial farming system.”
The survey, conducted between August 12 and August 22, was global in scope. Respondents came from across Africa (Tanzania, Malawi, Senegal, Namibia, Uganda, Morocco, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau as well as Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa), from throughout Europe (UK, Germany, Denmark), South and Central America (Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Aruba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago) as well as Asia and the Pacific (India, UAE, Syria, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand).
The results were equally striking in terms of who should take the lead in solving the current famine problems. All of the Kenyan and South African respondents cited the African governments themselves as did 71 percent of the Britons and 83 percent of the Americans. Only the Nigerian respondents felt that developed countries should also play a major role.
Several respondents took a more global, political approach to solving the famine. Said one: “Interesting how NATO has the resources and manpower to help bring someone down in Libya, but not to help lift someone up in Kenya.” Said another: “The countries themselves should sit down together and discuss the situation, share the wealth and generally be honest about solving problems.
The results seemed to echo a quote by Irish playwright and novelist Oscar Wilde: “There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.”
The results were equally split between men and women. The age ranges of the respondents were also fairly evenly divided: 6 percent under age 18, 31 percent 18-34, 40 percent 35-54 and 22 percent over age 55. Not surprisingly, 93 percent said improved farming techniques can help prevent famine in the future.