By Jolene Njambi
More than 320 of 400 Kenyans surveyed by SMS pollster GeoPoll are worried they will not have enough food to eat amidst the Coronavirus outbreak.
The survey, which gathered responses from more than 4,500 Africans across 12 nations, found that Kenyans’ concern over an impending food crisis is almost as great a worry to them as the global Coronavirus pandemic itself.
This ties with international alerts, with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation now warning of an impending food crisis if actions are not taken to protect supply chains and distribute food to vulnerable populations.
Currently, informal food markets constitute a majority of Kenyans’ food supply with approximately 55 per cent relying on informal food markets for their daily food consumption.
But following the announcement of a nationwide curfew on 25th March 2020, many food markets all over the country have curbed their opening hours in order to beat the dusk to dawn curfew. Many more have had to close, with only 20 per cent of the GeoPoll respondents in Kenya reporting that the markets or stores where they usually buy food are still open.
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This has resulted in a dramatic change in food buying habits, with over 60 per cent of Kenyans saying they are shopping for food less often than usual, and 42 per cent buying bigger pack sizes when they do shop.
Of the 80 per cent who reported they were worried about having enough food to eat, a majority, 72 per cent, said they are switching to an alternative brand that is cheaper rather than purchasing their usual brand.
The insights come as GeoPoll promises to run ongoing surveys throughout the current crisis.
“A health crisis such as coronavirus hitting vulnerable populations can have devastating effects on development, food supplies and resources. Reliable data is needed to accurately track on-the-ground situations, and using our remote mobile methodologies GeoPoll was able to gather valuable information quickly and safely,” said Nicholas Becker, GeoPoll CEO.
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“Some governments in Africa have been proactive about lockdowns in order to prevent the virus from quickly spreading through densely populated areas, but coronavirus is already present in many African nations, and this study shows there is a fear that the worst is yet to come,” he said.