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The Asia Foundation Releases 2008 Afghan Public Opinion Poll

Kabul and San Francisco, October 28, 2008 — Largest and broadest survey ever conducted at one time in Afghanistan reports public opinion on security, reconstruction and governance.

Today, The Asia Foundation released findings from its most recent public opinion poll in Afghanistan, which covers the largest population sample ever surveyed at one time in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces. “Afghanistan in 2008: A Survey of the Afghan People” is the fourth poll conducted by the Foundation, which released previous polls in 2004, 2006, and 2007. Collectively, the four surveys establish an accurate, long-term barometer of public opinion across Afghanistan to help assess the direction in which the country is moving in the post-Taliban era.

A copy of the 2008 survey can be accessed in its entirety, here.

Despite slow and steady gains in amenities and services for Afghan citizens and signs of success in reconstruction efforts, the situation on the ground in Afghanistan has grown increasingly difficult during the past year. Significantly higher civilian and military casualties, severe food shortages, and rising inflation and unemployment characterize the situation for the past several months. It is within this context that the 2008 survey captures the Afghan public’s perceptions of reconstruction, security, governance, and attitudes towards government and informal institutions, as well as poppy cultivation, the status of women, the role of Islam, and the impact of media.

The fieldwork for the survey was conducted during June 12-July 2, 2008. In-person interviews were conducted with a multi-stage random sample of 6,593 Afghan citizens 18 years of age and older, both women and men, from different social, economic, and ethnic communities in rural and urban areas in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.

The survey report opens with findings on the overall national mood in Afghanistan in 2008, which states that 38 percent of Afghans think the country is headed in the right direction (compared to 42% in 2007, 44% in 2006, and 64% in 2004); 32 percent feel it is moving in the wrong direction (24% in 2007, 21% in 2006, 11% in 2004). The remaining 23 percent have mixed feelings (25% in 2007, 29% in 2006, 8% in 2004). In the 2004 data, it is important to note that the sample size was 804 Afghans; since 2006, the sample size has been over 6,000 Afghans.

The 2008 survey — which was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development — was designed, directed, and edited by the Foundation, with all interviews completed in person by 543 Afghan men and women employed by the Afghan Center for Socio-economic and Opinion Research (ACSOR) in Kabul. Similar surveys are planned for 2009, 2010, and 2011.

About The Asia Foundation in Afghanistan

The Asia Foundation’s Kabul office was re-established in February 2002 to launch programs in areas vital to the political, social, economic, and intellectual development of post-Taliban Afghanistan. Since then, the Foundation’s Kabul office has assisted Afghans in their efforts to rebuild the country through the establishment of an interim government, the development of a new constitution, and the provision of support to implement national voter registration, civic education, media monitoring, and technical planning for the 2004 Presidential and 2005 National Assembly and Provincial Council elections. Since these elections, the Foundation has also been providing long-term critical support to key institutions within the executive branch of government at the central level. Other Foundation programs have focused on creating educational and training opportunities for women and girls, supporting development of higher education, and promoting exchanges to foster improved international relations.

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