Afghanistan has been ranked the least secure country in the world by Gallup although its point score on the index was higher in 2021 than in previous years.
According to the new index on law and order, scores at the country level in 2021 ranged from a high of 96 in Singapore to a low of 51 in Afghanistan.
Neither country was surveyed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in previous years, Singapore had scored the highest on the index nearly every year, and Afghanistan had scored the lowest on the index in both 2018 and 2019.
As low as Afghanistan’s score was in 2021, it represents an improvement over the previous score of 43 in 2019.
Gallup’s surveys in Afghanistan in 2021 took place as the Taliban completed their takeover of the country in August and as the United States withdrew its troops. Although the country was in turmoil, the end of the Taliban’s insurgency led to a marked drop in violence.
According to Gallup, the people of Afghanistan are least likely to feel safe walking alone at night.
Nearly seven in 10 people worldwide in 2021 said they feel safe walking alone at night where they live (71%), down one percentage point from the previous year and effectively ending consecutive years of improvement.
These overall numbers also mask scores that range from as high as 95% in Singapore to as low as 22% in Afghanistan.
Except for Afghanistan, the countries in which residents are least likely to say they feel safe walking alone at night are exclusively a mix of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, along with sub-Saharan Africa — which tends to be the case each year.
In most economically developed countries and territories with a strong rule of law, high majorities of residents say they feel safe walking alone in their areas at night. The same is true in countries where populations are under tighter state control.
For example, these feelings were nearly universal in 2021 in Singapore (95%), Tajikistan (93%), the United Arab Emirates (92%) and Saudi Arabia (91%).
In 2021, the U.S. was only slightly above the global average of 71%, with 73% of residents saying they felt safe walking alone at night — but this was down five points from 78% the previous year.
The United Nations’ most recent progress report on its Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 reiterates how important safety is to the future of global development.
The UN stated that feeling unsafe in public can fundamentally erode one’s sense of wellbeing and reduce trust and community engagement, becoming an obstacle to development.
The index itself is a composite score based on Gallup World Poll questions that ask people whether they are confident in their local police, feel safe in their neighborhoods, or were victims of theft or assault in the past year. Higher scores mean more people in a country feel secure.