The Asia Foundation Releases 2018 Survey of the Afghan People | Financial Buzz

The Asia Foundation Releases 2018 Survey of the Afghan People

According to a new survey released today by The
Asia Foundation, the number of Afghans who say the country is moving
in the right direction has steadied. The data reveals an incremental
rise in Afghans’ confidence in democracy, elections, government
institutions, and services. However, fears about insecurity and the
worsening economy, coupled with the long delay in the recent
parliamentary elections, continues to influence Afghan citizens’ views
on the future of the country. Comprehensive data from the Afghanistan
in 2018: A Survey of the Afghan People is based on
face-to-face interviews with a national sample of 15,012 Afghan citizens
representing all major and most minor ethnic groups in 34 provinces.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

(Graphic: Business Wire)

Read the executive summary, FAQ, and analysis here.
Join the conversation on Twitter at #AfghanSurvey and @Asia_Foundation.

The longest-running barometer of Afghan opinion, the Survey
of the Afghan People is a map of social change over time,
presenting a clear picture of the gains and gaps that Afghans perceive
in a rapidly transforming nation. The Survey, now on its
fourteenth edition, has gathered the views of more than 112,000 Afghans
since 2004 on security, elections, governance, the economy, essential
services, corruption, youth issues, reconciliation with the Taliban,
access to media, migration, the role of women, and political

After four years in power, the National Unity Government (NUG) continues
to face persistent challenges. Parliamentary elections were held in
October 2018 across most of the country, after a three-year delay due to
disputes over electoral reforms and instability. Insecurity has been a
main concern for Afghans in every election since 2001 and this year was
no exception, particularly given the deadly attacks on
voter-registration centers across the country just before the Survey fieldwork
was conducted.

“This year’s Survey reveals a mix of hope and fear as Afghans
look towards their future,” said Abdullah
Ahmadzai, The Asia Foundation’s country representative in
Afghanistan. “While the long delay in parliamentary elections, ongoing
violence, and economic and employment challenges continue to color
citizens’ views, the empirical evidence in 2018 reveals an incremental
rise in Afghans’ confidence in democracy, elections, government
institutions, and services. Clearly, even in the face of often seemingly
imperceptible progress, Afghans are eager for a better future.”

“Beyond the lens of war, the country’s deep political divisions,
structural governance challenges, and economic insecurity is impeding
development progress and the prospect of durable peace,” said David
D. Arnold, president of The Asia Foundation. “Against this backdrop,
the importance of comprehensive, reliable data cannot be overstated.
Through this annual research project, we are committed to closing data
gaps to help advance informed policymaking and improve the lives of the
people of Afghanistan.”

National optimism has stabilized and likely influenced positively by
this year’s elections

The Survey has shown over time that public optimism increases
significantly in any election year. In 2018, optimism about
Afghanistan’s direction has remained unchanged (33%) despite the
nation’s challenges to maintain security against the Taliban insurgency
and the growing presence of ISIS/Daesh. Afghans cite improvements in
security (52%), rebuilding (48%), governance (29%), rights for women
(12%), and the economy (11%) as the reasons for optimism. The number who
say the country is moving in the wrong direction is the same as last
year (61%). Insecurity is the most frequently cited reason for
pessimism, cited slightly more often this year than last (73% vs. 70%),
followed by concern about the economy (38%), which includes the 24% of
respondents who explicitly refer to unemployment as a reason for their

Attitudes towards elections and democracy remain favorable

Survey interviews were conducted in July 2018 and 80% of respondents say
they were aware of the upcoming parliamentary elections. This is
consistent with 2009 (82%), when the same question was asked regarding
that year’s presidential election. Over half of respondents (52%) said
they believe that the next election would be free and fair. Thinking the
next election will be free and fair is positively correlated with
national optimism. Respondents who say the next elections would be free
and fair are significantly more likely to think the country is moving in
the right direction than those who believe the opposite (42% vs. 24%).
Rural respondents (71%) are more likely to say they plan to vote than
urban (65%). Afghans’ satisfaction with democracy has increased from 57%
in 2017 to 61% this year.

Rise in fear while practicing civil liberties

Fear while voting has increased significantly, from 52% last year to 62%
in 2018, the highest level of fear yet recorded. Fear while voting is
negatively correlated with Afghans’ decision to vote. A majority of
Afghans (73%) report fear while participating in a peaceful
demonstration, a significant increase, by 13 percentage points, since
2006, when the question was first asked. Regionally, 79% of respondents
in the North West identify the Taliban as the biggest threat to local
security, while respondents in the East (57%) see Daesh/ISIS as the
biggest threat to local security. Afghans continue to lose sympathy for
armed opposition groups with 82% indicating that they have “no sympathy”
for the Taliban.

Deep concerns about the economy and food insecurity contribute to

Among the 61% of Afghans who think the country is moving in the wrong
direction, a majority express concerns about such things as:
unemployment (24%), a bad economy (12%), and high prices (4%). When
asked about the biggest problems facing youth, more than three-fourths
of all respondents (75%) cite lack of employment opportunities and 15%
cite economic concerns. As a direct result of the drought, affecting
two-thirds of the country and damaging essential crops including the
wheat harvest, an estimated two million additional Afghans will be
affected by food insecurity. Unemployment (52%) and bad economy (18%),
along with insecurity, are top reasons why Afghans are willing to

Strong support for women’s education, but views on political
participation and work are mixed

Afghan women’s lives have improved significantly since the Taliban were
ousted. Most Afghans (70%) agree women should be allowed to work outside
the home and the majority (84%) say women should have the same
opportunities as men in education. Almost half of respondents (46%) cite
illiteracy and lack of educational opportunities as the biggest problem
facing Afghan women in 2018, up from 43% last year. The level of support
for the cultural practices of baad and baddal continues to
decline and support for women in leadership positions – apart from that
of the President – has increased marginally.

Download the data sets and infographics here.

Afghanistan in 2018: A Survey of the Afghan People

This year’s survey polled 15,012 men and women above 18 years of age
representing all major and most minor ethnic groups from 34 provinces in
the country. The sample consisted of 50.3% men and 49.7% women and 19.4%
urban households and 80.6% rural households. Face-to-face interviews
were conducted from July 6–27, 2018 by a team 1,139 interviewers (562
female, 577 male), matched with respondents by gender—men interviewed
men and women interviewed women. Results have been weighted to be gender
balanced and nationally representative using the most recent population
data (2016–2017) released by the Afghan Central Statistics Organization.
The margin of error is ±1.4%, based on a design effect of 2.998 and a
confidence interval of 95%. Sayara Research conducted third-party
validation of fieldwork. Data sets are available for download at

The Asia Foundation in Afghanistan

The Asia Foundation, an international development nonprofit organization
committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia, began
working in Afghanistan
in 1954 and re-opened its Kabul office in 2002. With a long history of
planning and implementing effective programs that benefit the country
and its citizens, the Foundation maintains strong relationships with the
government and civil society that have led to sustainable initiatives in
governance and law, women’s empowerment, education, regional
cooperation, and the signature Survey of the Afghan People.

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