Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
UPDATE- A glimmer of hope in Afghanistan
(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%).