Is Afghanistan on the “right track”?

42% of Afghans think their country is moving in the right direction. What’s up with that?

Key findings from the Asia Foundation’s survey of 6000 Afghans, conducted over the summer:

• In 2009, 42 percent of respondents say that the country is moving in the right direction.
This figure is higher than in 2008 (38%). Similarly, 29 percent feel that the country is moving in the wrong direction compared to 32 percent in 2008, signaling a check on the trend of declining optimism that had been evident since 2006.
• The main reason for optimism continues to be good security which has been mentioned by an increasing proportion of respondents each year, from 31 percent in 2006 to 44 percent in 2009. More respondents in 2009 also mention reconstruction
and rebuilding (36%) and opening of schools for girls (21%) as reasons for optimism than in previous years.
• Insecurity also remains the most important reason for pessimism, cited by 42 percent of respondents. However, the proportion of respondents that highlight insecurity in 2009 has fallen since 2008 when half of respondents (50%) emphasized this factor.
• Insecurity (including attacks, violence and terrorism) is identified as the biggest problem in Afghanistan by over a third of respondents (36%), particularly in the South East (48%), West (44%) and South West (41%). However, concern about other issues such as unemployment (35%), poor economy (20%), corruption (17%), poverty (11%) and education (11%) has increased in 2009 compared to 2008.

Maybe things have gotten worse since the summer, but this is hardly the picture of hopelessness I’ve been getting from the newspapers.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

2 thoughts on “Is Afghanistan on the “right track”?”

  1. From page 152 of the survey's report:

    "Moreover, in 2009, there were greater restrictions on the movement of survey

    researchers than in previous years. A number of districts in the country could not

    be surveyed because of inaccessibility due to logistical problems, natural disasters

    and security. [snip] The instability and frequent fighting in some provinces caused 102 of the sampling points across the country (12%) to be adjusted or replaced to keep interviewers out of areas

    affected by active violence. This was a significant change from 2008 when only 17

    sampling points (3%) had to be replaced for security reasons."

    Presumably, though not necessarily, the replacement locations were less directly impacted by violence over the past year. I wonder how the Afghans in the areas affected by active violence would have responded had they been asked and what effect their exclusion might have had on the overall results.

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