LARGEST AND BROADEST SURVEY EVER CONDUCTED AT ONE TIME IN AFGHANISTAN REPORTS PUBLIC OPINION ON SECURITY, RECONSTRUCTION, AND GOVERNANCE.
On October 28, 2008, 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 to help assess the direction in which the country is moving in the post-Taliban era. A copy of the See full 2008 survey is available at: www.asiafoundation.org.
Despite slow and steady gains in amenities and services for Afghan citizens and signs of success in reconstruction efforts, the situation on the ground has grown increasingly difficult with significantly higher civilian and military casualties, severe food shortages, and rising inflation and unemployment. The survey captures opinions on reconstruction, security, governance, and attitudes toward government and informal institutions, as well as poppy cultivation, the status of women, the role of Islam, and the impact of media.
More than 6,500 adult Afghan women and men from different social, economic, and ethnic communities in rural and urban areas were interviewed for the survey by more than 500 Afghan men and women employed by the Afghan Center for Socio-economic and Opinion Research (ACSOR) in Kabul.
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. (Note: the 2004 sample size was 804 Afghans; since 2006, the sample size has been over 6,000.)
The 2008 survey, which was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development — was designed, directed, and edited by the Foundation. Similar surveys are planned for 2009, 2010, and 2011. Read more about the survey or download the full report, “Afghanistan in 2008: A Survey of the Afghan People.”
BOOKS FOR ASIA PROGRAM REACHES PROJECTED DONATION AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
Between October 2007 and September 2008, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program exceeded its previous year’s donations by sending more than one million books to 17 countries throughout Asia. The millionth book was shipped to Thailand in July, more than two months ahead of the projected schedule.
The increasing demand for the Books for Asia program underscores the continued desire for educational materials among Asia’s neediest and most ambitious citizens. It also highlights the success of our collaboration with partner organizations such as Room to Read that enhance our ability to reach children in countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and others through books donations.
While we often measure our work in numbers, we assess it by the impact on individuals and communities. Books for Asia donations reach schools, libraries, training centers, and universities throughout Asia that rarely are able to purchase recent and adequate titles. These donations are only possible through the generous support of publishers, individuals, corporations, and foundations.
Since 1998, McGraw Hill Companies has donated more than 4 million books and educational materials. John Wiley & Sons has contributed 450,000 books since 2004. Other donors include Lynne Rienner Publishing, Kumarian Press, Island Press, and Pearson Education, as well as Chevron, AARP, and FedEx. Through literacy and access to reading materials, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program is educating future leaders, creating new opportunities, and helping empower the people of Asia. We are looking forward to another pace-setting year in 2009. Read more about The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia Program.
Luce Scholars Assist Cambodian Art Conservation Efforts, Research Korean Science Policy, and Explore Indonesian Local Governance
Each year, the Luce Scholars Program sends a diverse group of talented young individuals to Asia for 12 months to learn about Asia and to work in their fields of expertise. This year’s group represents the 35th class of Luce Scholars. The Asia Foundation has been the Henry Luce Foundation’s key partner since the program’s inception in 1974, and a total of more than 500 young Americans have participated.
At the end of August, 17 scholars departed the U.S. for their year in one of the host destinations: Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, and Malaysia. The 2008-2009 scholars’ assignments reflect their broad interests. For example: an environmental restorationist is serving with a landscape designer in Japan; a former staff assistant in the Office of Oklahoma’s Lieutenant Governor is working on local governance issues in an Indonesian non-governmental organization (NGO); an art conservationist is assisting a museum near the Angkor World Heritage site in Cambodia; a scientist is exploring links between science policy and economic development in a Korean policy institute; and a journalist is assisting with media development projects in Malaysia. During their time in Asia, scholars are working in universities, government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector. This year’s scholars are: Sean Colenso-Semple, Ku’uipo Curry, Charles Edel, Anne Marie Gan, Jesse Green, Kenneth Brooks Hickman, Zachary Hill, Allison Jones, Matthew MacGregor, Noah Metheny, Marshall Morales, Jenna Morey, Sheila Ongwae, Jeremiah Schwarz, Ian Simon, Michael Tarrant, and Micah Ziegler.
From farmers in remote Mongolia to factory workers in bustling Beijing, women throughout Asia are gaining access to greater economic opportunities through The Asia Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Program.
Working with local partners, Foundation programs provide women with tools to be productive and profitable, including job training, networking, credit, and business management training. Projects also educate women workers on their rights and help them mobilize to reform discriminatory laws and demand fair and equal treatment in the workplace. Programs include a rural businesswomen mentoring program in Cambodia; mobile business service units in Pakistan that bring business advice directly to clients; training and technical support for women farmers in Mongolia to increase their household income and reduce the risk of domestic violence and trafficking; training poor and vulnerable young women to
repair motorcycles and electronics in Nepal; establishing a microcredit program that has provided small business loans and basic business skills to more than 2,700 women in post-tsunami Aceh; and, health, education, and counseling services, legal aid, labor rights information, and life skills and vocational training for 850,000 Chinese migrant women workers.
Programs such as these increase women’s economic options to enable them to create better lives for themselves and their children. Read more about The Asia Foundation’s Women’s Program.
In September, The Asia Foundation released America’s Role in Asia: Asian and American Views, a book providing recommendations for U.S. policy toward Asia. Every four years, the program brings together a distinguished group of Asian and American policy experts, current and former diplomats, and scholars to discuss, develop, and author these recommendations. The program reflects The Asia Foundation’s view that if workable solutions to common problems are to be found, perspectives from both sides of the Pacific must be heard and shared.
The book provides policymakers with concrete recommendations on issues from stability on the Korean peninsula, conflict in Afghanistan, and the global war on terror; to energy security, environmental degradation and Asia’s political and economic architecture, trade, and investment. The initial release of the recommendations coincided with the U.S. presidential and congressional elections and provides unique perspective for forthcoming U.S. policy toward Asia. Read more about America’s Role in Asia or download the full report.
Missie Rennie, trustee of The Asia Foundation and Give2Asia, and her husband, Zach Taylor, recently endowed a Professorship chair in Ecology and Conservation Biology at the National University of Mongolia, to be named “The Taylor Family – Asia Foundation Endowed Chair.” Committed to assisting Mongolia’s development, Rennie and Taylor determined that this would be of great benefit to furthering the study of ecology in the country. The incumbent will be an established and prominent leader in ecology and conservation biology teaching, research, and public outreach, with experience in the characterization of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the biotic communities inhabiting them, in Mongolia and regionally. This is the first endowed professorship for Mongolia. A ceremony to launch the position recently took place in Ulaanbataar, and Dr. B. Boldgiv, a PhD graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, is the first to be selected for the chair.
The Asia Foundation recently announced the appointment of Dr. Robin Bush as Country Representative in Indonesia. Dr. Bush has served as Deputy Country Representative for the Foundation in Indonesia since 2006. Prior to becoming Deputy Country Representative, Dr. Bush was the Foundation’s Regional Director for Islam and Development, responsible for assisting Foundation offices Asia-wide in developing Islam-related programs. Dr. Bush has been with the Foundation since 1998, when she joined its Indonesia office as a Program Officer for the Islam and Civil Society program. In Indonesia, she led innovative programs that brought police and Muslim clerics together to improve community security, facilitated the development of civic education and student-centered teaching to madrasah and Islamic schools, and enabled Muslim civil society organizations to improve service delivery at local levels.
Understanding that private sector perspectives can be critical to good project design, The Asia Foundation has established an Advisory Council of highly regarded private sector individuals with expertise and strategic interests in Asia. The Council’s primary role is to help increase the visibility and relevance of the Foundation’s work, and to help better assess the impact of Foundation programming on the economic growth and development of Asian nations. Founding members are: Bill S. Kim, Founder and President, Kizan International, Inc.; S. Timothy Kochis, Founder and CEO, Aspiriant; Dr. T. Dixon Long, Dean Emeritus, Case Western Reserve University; Leo K.W. Lum, Founder and Chairman, Churchill Capital Asia Limited of Singapore; Janet McKinley, Chair, Oxfam America Board of Directors; and Masaaki Tanaka, President and CEO, UnionBanCal Corporation and Union Bank of California. Asia Foundation Trustees Thomas Rohlen and Paul Slawson serve as trustee-members of the Advisory Council. For more information, contact the Resource Development staff at: email@example.com.
Program Director, Pacific Islands
Kathryn Hawley knows firsthand that emergencies and disasters are a part of everyday life in the Pacific. The region is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, including earthquakes,volcanoes, cyclones, floods, droughts, and tsunamis. When disaster strikes, the geographic isolation of island communities makes assistance even more challenging.
As The Asia Foundation’s ProgramDirector, Hawley draws on her 35 years of experience living in the Pacific in her work to address the capacity and preparedness of Pacific Island nations. Hawley has worked in 14 Pacific Island countries over the past 13 years to help them take preventative, mitigation, and preparedness steps to reducing disaster risks and building self-reliance.
Participating countries have included Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Participants in Disaster Management training needed to use their new skills just this year. In January 2008, the Cook Islands experienced a period of intense tropical storms. Roads were closed and buildings sustained damage. Newly established Emergency Operation Centers sprung to action — evacuation sites were put on standby, updates were given to tourist hotels, and units coordinated possible responses. According to the Director of the National Disaster Management office, “Overall there was huge improvement…. Organizations knew what to do, and this was directly attributed to the training conducted through The Asia Foundation and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).”
Hawley’s work doesn’t end with the extensive Disaster Management program. She also manages projects focusing on violence against women, and over the years, she has worked on elections programs in Afghanistan, post-tsunami work in Aceh, Indonesia, and a disaster management project in China. Hawley says, “I believe if development work is done right, it can have a huge impact, leaving a lasting impression on those we work with. The work I have been associated with in the Pacific region makes a difference, and I am proud to be part of it.” Read more about The Asia Foundation’s programs in the Pacific Islands Nations.