Kenyans See Climate Change as Top Security Threat, Poll Shows

13 February 2019

Kenyans taking part in a newly-released global poll have identified climate change as the biggest threat facing the country.

Islamist violence was listed third in Kenya out of a total of eight security threats that pollsters asked respondents to rate in order of magnitude.

But the survey referred specifically to "the Islamist militant group known as Isis" and did not include Al-Shabaab in the set of threats.

"Cyberattacks from other countries" narrowly surpassed Isis in Kenyans' ranked assessments of threats.

In findings published on Monday, the Washington-based Pew Research Centre notes that its survey was carried out prior to last month's Al-Shabaab attack on the Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi.


The poll of 1,039 Kenyans was conducted in English and Swahili in May and June 2018 in most parts of the country.

Residents from Kenya's northern counties were not sampled nor were those in eastern, coast and Rift Valley regions that Pew described as "inaccessible."

A report accompanying the results of the 26-nation survey notes that "in Kenya, where droughts and extreme weather events have negatively affected agriculture, the public feels most threatened by global climate."

"This is true across gender, age, income and education groups," the Pew report adds in its Kenya section.

"Majorities also see Isis, cyberattacks, the global economy and North Korea's nuclear program as major threats."


Climate change was rated a major threat by 71 percent of Kenyans polled, followed by 65 percent who cited cyberattacks, 64 percent identifying Isis and 58 percent pointing to the condition of the global economy.

North Korea's nuclear programme was viewed as a major threat by 56 percent of Kenyans.

More Kenyans (41 percent) rated US power and influence as a threat than did those expressing great concern about Russia (37 percent) or China (34 percent).

Worries about climate change head the list of threats in half of the 26 countries included in the survey.

Concerns about climate have risen steeply over the past five years, with double-digit percentage-point increases found in Kenya, the US, Mexico, France, Britain and South Africa.

Fears of US power and influence have also become more widespread in President Donald Trump era, the polling data showed.

In 10 of the surveyed countries, roughly half or more of respondents now see American power as a major threat to their nation.

In Nigeria and South Africa -- the other two sub-Saharan countries included in the Pew poll -- Isis and cyberattacks are respectively identified as the leading threat.

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