- 71% of young (18-24 year old) UK respondents believe countries around the world, including the UK, should help prevent a famine in East Africa through means like funding and political action.
- 69% of young UK respondents believe the international community has a responsibility to help countries in crisis like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia to lessen the impact of climate change.
- 73% of young UK respondents feel politicians are not doing enough to address the issues of climate change and related food shortages.
- Almost 90% of the UK public, including 85% who identified as Conservative party voters, are concerned about the impact of climate change on global hunger.
London, UK, September 7, 2022 — As over 20 million people teeter on the brink of famine in East Africa, a new poll conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in conjunction with YouGov shows the majority of the young British public believe countries around the world, including the UK, should help prevent a famine in East Africa through means like funding and political action.
Young Brits feel especially passionate about the issue of climate-induced hunger with 71% agreeing that countries around the world should help prevent a famine in East Africa. More than half of young respondents feel politicians are not doing enough to address the issues of climate change and related food shortages, and believe the international community has a responsibility to help countries in crisis like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia to lessen the impact of climate change and counter the worst effects of food insecurity.
These findings come as the UN announced that famine is at the door in Somalia and world leaders have a “narrow window of opportunity to act in order to prevent what could otherwise become a full-fledged famine” in a few months.
Laura Kyrke-Smith, Executive Director at the International Rescue Committee UK, said:
"These findings show that despite facing an economic crisis at home, young British people remain compassionate, outward-looking, and concerned about the fate of those facing famine in East Africa.
"We urge Prime Minister Liz Truss to heed their call and make preventing this famine a priority for her Government, by increasing funding where possible and establishing a global emergency action group to mobilise other countries to respond.
"In 2016, the UK played a key role in preventing famine in East Africa, learning from the international community’s failure to do so in 2011, providing critical leadership and delivering nearly £700 million in emergency humanitarian funding.
"Today, despite tens of millions more people facing severe hunger than in 2016, the UK Government has committed only a fifth of what it previously provided. Liz Truss must seize this narrow window of opportunity to change the course of history and save lives.”
This poll was also conducted amongst the American public in the US, and similarly shows high concern among American youth regarding the climate induced drought in East Africa.
David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee said,
“There is clear bipartisan consensus, across the UK and the US, on the need to do more and do so urgently to avert climate change-induced famine in East Africa. The worst drought in forty years is symptomatic of the growing impact of climate change and the international neglect that allows hunger to run rampant, particularly in countries already reeling from conflict. The UK and US public, especially youth, are in agreement: politicians, the media, and the public must do more to counter the worst effects of climate change, especially on the world’s most vulnerable.
"By the time a famine is declared, it will already be too late, with thousands having already lost their lives. This tragic loss of life is preventable today and in the future, through a mixture of scaling up of treatment of acute and severe malnutrition through proven solutions such as the IRC’s Combined Protocol and increased funding and attention to life-saving drought response programmes. The worst outcome of this year’s hunger crisis is to allow history to repeat itself, allowing a return to the devastation we saw during the 2011 famine.
“This mounting crisis in East Africa is another painful reminder of how the challenges the world faces are connected and often exacerbate one another, particularly when the systems meant to respond to these challenges lack vigor, focus and accountability. This dynamic must be front of mind for the world’s representatives as they gather soon for the UN General Assembly in New York, and afterwards at COP27. Crises that cut across borders can only be effectively met with a response that reaches across borders.
"The leaders gathering in New York will have an opportunity to give real meaning to the global consensus around the urgency of climate-induced famine in East Africa with a well-funded, evidence-based and coordinated global plan of action to deliver much needed emergency relief to communities facing a potential famine. East Africa should also serve as a stark warning of the cost of inaction as the international community responds to other countries at risk of famine in the coming months and years.”
East Africa is home to some of the IRC’s longest-running programs globally, with operations in Somalia for over 40 years, Kenya for 30 years and Ethiopia for 20 years. Today, over 2,000 IRC staff in the region are scaling up our programs to address the current drought and rising food insecurity, including expanding to new areas to meet severe needs.