A Survey of the Afghan People
The Asia Foundation | December 2008
Irrespective of slow gains in basic services as well as little success in reconstruction, the conflict in Afghanistan is still in full swing. High civilian and military casualties, severe food shortages, millions of Afghans facing starvation and rising unemployment are contributing to the destabilization of the war ridden country. The Asia Foundation has conducted a survey to ascertain how Afghans assess the overall situation in Afghanistan. 6583 Afghans from each of Afghanistan's 34 provinces were asked multiple questions relevant to policy makers, researchers and donor organizations in order to help them optimize international efforts in Afghanistan. The survey lists the following key findings:
- Security (36%) is viewed as the most pressing issue in Afghanistan. In 2008 the security situation has become more polarized as it seems to have localized dimensions.
- Although the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police enjoy the highest level of public confidence, a significant number of respondents stress concerns about the effectiveness of these forces, especially when they are not trained by foreign troops.
- Economic issues (31%) including unemployment, high commodity prices (22%) and a crippled economy (17%) are further viewed as major national problems. Numerous respondents mentioned that they were more prosperous under the Taliban government, highlighting their worries about the economic developments in Afghanistan.
- 82% have expressed their disapproval of poppy cultivation. A majority is aware of its connection to terrorism, corruption and crime. Those who are in favor of cultivation take this stance for economic reasons, as unemployment is prevalent throughout the country.
- Respondents outlined that the most important local problems are related to a lack of basic infrastructure like electricity (30%), water (22%) and roads (18%). Being one of the most problematic local amenities, the development of electricity supply constitutes the priority.
- Although the number of those who disapprove of the government's performance has doubled since 2007, 67% of those interviewed are particularly satisfied with government activities in the areas of education and healthcare. However, there is a general dissatisfaction with the way the central government has been fighting corruption. Corruption (14%) has been named a main issue of concern as it infiltrates all political ranks hindering the establishment of the rule of law.
- Whereas availability of education and literacy for children has improved, it remains the biggest problem cited by women (45%).
- The majority of respondents said freedom and peace constitute the main pillars of democracy. Moreover, 68% are satisfied with the level of democracy that has been implemented so far. However, only half of respondents are informed about the 2009 elections in their country.
This summary was prepared by Sepideh Parsa, editorial intern at Atlantic-community.org, from this survey by The Asia Foundation.
Related materials from the Atlantic Community:
- Julianne Smith: The EU Can and Should Do More in Afghanistan
- Florian Broschk: Kickstarting a New Debate on Afghanistan
- Morgan Sheeran: Afghan Surge: More Police Trainers Essential