Afghanistan Flash Surveys on Perceptions of Peace, Covid-19, & the Economy

Poll of 4,300 Afghans released, first of three waves

Kabul, November 23, 2020 — According to a new survey released today by The Asia Foundation in Kabul, Afghanistan, Afghans report a deteriorating outlook of the economy, adequate access to news and information on the Covid-19 pandemic, and mixed views on peace and reconciliation with the Taliban, especially regarding women’s rights. The first of three waves, Afghanistan Flash Surveys on Perceptions of Peace, Covid-19, and the Economy: Wave 1 Findings presents the opinions of 4,303 Afghan adults on specific issues facing the country, with fieldwork conducted September 6 to October 4, 2020.

Amid changing developments in Afghanistan, notably Covid-19 restrictions and current peace negotiations, the Afghanistan Flash Survey series is designed to actively track the shifts in public sentiment and support policymakers as they navigate a country in transition. Read the report.

Distinct from Survey of the Afghan People—The Asia Foundation’s annual barometer of Afghan public opinion, including the perceptions of more than 129,800 Afghans since 2004—the Afghanistan Flash Surveys provide data from all 34 provinces in a multi-wave format, tracked over five months from September 2020 to January 2021. The second wave is underway and findings will be available in December 2020, followed by the third wave in early 2021.

Key findings from Wave 1 include:

  • Covid-19: Most Afghans (85%) report that they received adequate news on the pandemic. Over 60 percent say they are satisfied with the level of information provided by the government. However, when asked to what extent the government has provided individual support to them during the pandemic, 74 percent reported not at all.
  • Peace: Over half (54%) of respondents say peace is achievable in Afghanistan within the next two years. A vast majority (86%) are unwilling to accept a peace agreement that results in women and girls no longer being able to attend school.
  • Women’s rights: Signalling some resistance to full female participation in society, less than half (46%) strongly agree that it is acceptable for women to work outside the home in a co-ed workplace setting. However, strong support for women in leadership roles remains, with a majority supporting women in a CEO position (72%) and running for president (60%).
  • Security: Over half (53%) strongly agree that the Afghan National Army and under half (43%) strongly agree that the Afghan National Police can still provide adequate security without foreign technical assistance.
  • Economy: Most Afghans report a deteriorating economic outlook, including those who report a worsening financial situation (71%) and worsening employment situations (74%) in the past 12 months.

“Peace talks with the Taliban remain at the center of international and national attention,” said Abdullah Ahmadzai, The Asia Foundation’s country representative in Afghanistan. “Central to reconciliation efforts and broader policymaking priorities is providing access to reliable data on what Afghans think. Against the backdrop of travel and in-person restrictions in 2020 due to Covid-19, timely access and tracking of Afghan perceptions is more urgent than ever.”

Full survey results and data sets are available for download.

This survey was conducted using random digit dialing among a nationally representative sample of Afghan adults who use mobile phones. The 90 Dari and Pashto native-speaking interviewers, gender matched with respondents, used Tablet Assisted Personal Interviewing and Research Control Solutions software. The sample consisted of 72 percent men and 28 percent women and 58 percent urban households and 42 percent rural households, weighted to be gender balanced (50:50) and nationally representative (74% rural, 26% urban) using the most recent population data released by the Afghan government’s National Statistics and Information Authority.

The “social desirability effect,” a tendency for participants to respond in a way they believe may be viewed favorably by the enumerator or others, is explored in the Flash Surveys series. Understanding this effect is particularly useful in the context of politically sensitive topics including a peace deal or attitudes towards the Taliban.

The Afghanistan Flash Surveys series is a product of The Asia Foundation with support provided by the United States Agency for International Development, the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, and the German government’s Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit.

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, international cooperation, and the signature Survey of the Afghan People.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

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Related locations: Afghanistan
Related programs: Survey of the Afghan People
Related topics: Covid-19

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