Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

UPDATE- A glimmer of hope in Afghanistan

October 30, 2009


(Amending the article with the correct name of the organisation which conducted the research as also with more details on the survey itself}

The Asia Foundation has released its annual survey of Afghanistan and a key finding is that the Afghan people are a bit more optimistic about their country than the rest of the world is, at this point of time.  The survey found that 42 percent of the people felt Afghanistan was heading in the right direction, up from 38 percent in 2008, and mainly because of better security conditions.

In fact each year the number of respondents who think security has improved has gone up, even though the Taliban insurgency is at its worst in 2009.  Some 44 percent of those surveyed this year said they felt safer, up from 31 percent in 2006. More respondents in 2009 also mentioned reconstruction and rebuilding (36%) and opening of schools for girls (21%) as reasons for optimism than in previous years.

It may not be such a disconnect as it seems. Security remains the main worry for the people  of Afghanistan with some 42 percent saying that was the most important reason for pessimism.  It is just that an increasing number of people – and the number is rising very slowly – believe things are starting to get better.

The survey was carried out among 6,408 adult in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan between June 17 and July 6, 2009.

Some more key findings :

- In 2009, Afghans give a more positive assessment of their economic situation than in previous years, although this prosperity is not evenly shared. Considerably more urban respondents (63%) than rural residents (52%) say they are more prosperous today than they were under the Taliban.

- Unemployment continues to feature amongst the most important problems at both national (35%) and local (26%) levels. Other major problems at the local level concern basic infrastructure and services such as electricity (26%), roads (24%), water (22%) and lack of healthcare/clinics/hospitals (20%), as in previous years

- The majority of respondents (71%) support the government’s attempts to address the security situation through negotiation and reconciliation with armed anti-government elements. The high level of support for this approach is likely to be influenced by the fact that a majority of respondents (56%) say they have some level of sympathy with the motivations of armed opposition groups.

- The proportion of respondents who say that democracy is the best form of government available continues to fall, from 84 percent in 2006 to 78 percent in 2009.

- Interestingly, the survey, which was conducted two months before the August presidential election, found that more than 60 percent of the people thought the election would be free and fair. Those who thought otherwise identified a range of potential problems including cheating in the vote count (39%) and buying of votes (33%).


A heavily flawed survey of a small amount of Afghans, from only the more secure areas. Worth a read though as an insight into what information the US govt. is interested in.

Very few people over the age of 44 were surveyed, no unemployed people were surveyed despite the survey indicating unemployment was one of the worst problems in the country.
77% of respondents have less than a grade 6 primary school education, in fact 54% of respondents can’t read in any language.
69% of respondents think they should vote the way their community is voting despite their opinions.
And despite what this article may suggest the survey repeatedly indicated that a majority of respondents had little to no faith in the government and saw corruption as being one of the major problems in Afghanistan.

58% live on under $25USD a week for roughly an average family of 9.
81% on under $50 a week for roughly an average family of 9
Well under a dollar a day per person..

I found many inconsistencies and contradicting results in this survey that indicate persuasive, bias and stacked questioning like-
Do what extent do you agree that:
a) Democracy may have its problems,
but it is better than any
other form of government.
b) Politicians seek power for
their own benefit and don’t
worry about helping people.

In a nation where the president has just come to power in elections marred by massive electoral fraud and achieved only around 10% of the populations vote to attain victory there should be no question as to the illegitimacy of democracy therein.

Lets also not forget that the survey in question interviewed only 6,406 Afghans from more secure areas and the organization responsible (The Asia Foundation) “is not an endowed organization, and depends solely on monetary contributions from donors to accomplish its work.” was created and funded by the CIA.
This particular survey was funded by a controversial US government agency USAID who’s stated strategy includes the promotion of US foreign policy, and has operated historically as an instrument of US foreign policy.

It’s important to read the survey yourself or at least see who’s behind it.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

Oops! Karzai is president now, with around 10% of the population’s vote (minus fraud), so much for that glimmer of hope..

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

By the way this was not the work of the Asia SOCIETY, as the article states, but of the Asia FOUNDATION ( ). Which seem to be two distinct entities.
You may need to amend the article..

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

Many thanks for pointing the error out, Brian. We have reiussed an amended post as also included a bit of detail about the survey itself which you have highlighted.

Posted by Sanjeev Miglani | Report as abusive

Cheers Sanjeev,

Though personally I still believe the survey is greatly flawed if not tailored to produce positive statements, and it’s origins alone create a conflict of interests that hardly deem it worthy of attention.

A great example of this is your conclusion that the results suggest:

“- The proportion of respondents who say that democracy is the best form of government available continues to fall, from 84 percent in 2006 to 78 percent in 2009.”

There is some truth in this but both the questions and the results are misleading as the last half of the question box indicates “Do you agree or disagree that”:
b) Politicians seek power for
their own benefit and don’t
worry about helping people.
To which the amount of respondents who agree is 75 percent, which suggests a lack of faith in democracy.

Also the fact that the two questions are grouped together into the one (Q80) is very strange… Why?

The style of these questions is persuasive with the majority of questions taking the approach of making a mostly positive, descriptive and highly detailed statements about progress in Afghanistan and asking the respondent the extent to which they agree or disagree.
This is the lowest form of polling and produces the most inaccurate results because of the specific and complex nature of the questions and restraints on the options for answers.
I wouldn’t rate this survey for MANY reasons.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

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