World

Many Africans Say Foreigners Traffic Drugs in Their Countries

by Jenny Marlar

Majorities say the movement of illegal drugs increases corruption

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the United Nations observes the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illegal Trafficking on June 26, Gallup surveys in eight sub-Saharan African countries in 2009 and 2010 show that a median of 54% of respondents say foreigners are using their country as a place to move illegal drugs and 66% say this increases corruption.

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Successful efforts to curb drug trafficking into the United States and a growing demand for cocaine in Europe have led traffickers to establish transit routes through sub-Saharan Africa. While West African nations such as Senegal are commonly referenced as part of large-scale cocaine trafficking, respondents in South Africa (85%) and Kenya (74%) are most likely to say foreigners use their country to move illegal drugs.

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A relatively high percentage of respondents in Nigeria did not offer an opinion. While it is possible respondents have no knowledge of the issue, drugs do funnel through the country. The increased presence of organized drug gangs in recent years may have made respondents uneasy about answering these questions.

The United Nations worries that the billions of dollars in drug money flowing through the region each year can dwarf the size of local economies. The large amount of money involved means traffickers can bribe even the highest levels of government, compounding already existing problems with corruption. A majority of respondents in all countries surveyed agree that the movement of illegal drugs increases corruption in the country, with South Africans (90%) and Kenyans (88%) most likely to say so.

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A troubling sign for the future, people in most of the countries surveyed are more likely than not to say illegal drug sales are increasing in their neighborhoods. In South Africa, where respondents are most likely to agree their country is being used for drug trafficking, 88% of respondents say illegal drug sales are increasing locally.

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Bottom Line

Many residents in these eight sub-Saharan African countries see their nations being used as transit routes for illegal drugs and see increased corruption accompanying the movement of these drugs. The corruption alone exacerbates already existing problems in many of these countries, and perceptions of increasing drug sales suggest this problem is only getting worse.

In light of the focus placed on illegal trafficking in West Africa, it is interesting that South Africa and Kenya topped the list of countries where people say trafficking is taking place and that drug sales are increasing. Gallup will continue to monitor the situation in 2010 and will survey additional countries not included in this report.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact SocialandEconomicAnalysis@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on 8,000 face-to-face interviews with adults, aged 15 in older, conducted in 2009 and 2010. A minimum of 1,000 interviews were conducted in each of the following countries: Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that that the margin of error ranged from a low of ±3.4 percentage point in Zimbabwe to a high of ±4.0 percentage points in South Africa. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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