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Survey of Afghans Indicates Security Concerns, Decline in Taliban Support

  • Jennifer Glasse

An Afghan woman clad in burqa buys a broom along a roadside in Kabul June 13, 2011.

An Afghan woman clad in burqa buys a broom along a roadside in Kabul June 13, 2011.

A nationwide survey of more than 6,300 Afghans found security remains a concern, but confidence in the Afghan government, army and police are high while support for the Taliban is waning.

The U.S.-based Asia Foundation survey indicates that, despite a year of intense political gridlock, the Afghan government remains popular. Seventy three percent of Afghans questioned are happy with central government performance - about the same as last year. Survey author Najla Ayubi says she was encouraged by the government’s perceived strengths.

“Performance of government on education, health and security, improvement of the security, for me as an Afghan to look at the future of Afghanistan, it’s more optimistic rather than pessimistic,” she said.

The survey found insecurity, corruption and lack of job opportunities to be the biggest failings of the government. Although nearly half of those questioned think Afghanistan is moving in the right direction - about the same as last year - the number who disagree went from 27 percent in 2010 to 35 percent this year.

“The surprising thing is that the respondents - those who are saying the country is moving in the wrong direction - that has increased, jumped, you know, to 35 percent," said Fazel Rabi Haqbeen, a program planner at the Asia Foundation in Kabul. "And we looked into the data and tried you know to find [...] what would be the reason, you know for that pessimism.”

Survey workers queried more respondents from all over the country, except a few areas where security and logistics prevented access. Fifty seven percent were male, 42 percent female. Haqbeen says there were a variety of answers as to why the country is heading the wrong way.

“There are reasons and the first reason is security, insecurity, unemployment, corruption and so on,” Haqbeen explained.

Insecurity is the biggest concern at the national level. At the local level, unemployment was considered the biggest problem, with insecurity coming in sixth. A majority of Afghans, 66 percent, preferred local justice solutions over a government-run justice system. The Afghan national army and police both enjoy high levels confidence with 93 and 83 percent respectively, despite concerns about security.

The survey - the seventh carried out here by the Asia foundation - is the largest conducted in Afghanistan. Ayubi says it plays a significant role for many groups in Afghanistan.

“We are really lacking detailed information from the ground from the grass roots, this one help us and the government of Afghanistan, the civil society, the international community to develop their policies based on these findings which definitely will help us tackling these problems in the future,” Ayubi said.

The Asia Foundation says it is still studying the raw data gathered in July of this year and plans to release detailed analyses of the findings early next year.