Optimism grows among Afghans: Asia Foundation
KABUL (PAN): More than 50 percent of Afghans, increasingly supporting the government’s peace and reconciliation policy, think their country is moving in the right direction, an international opinion poll said on Wednesday.
In its 2012 survey, the Asian Foundation said 52 percent of Afghans, compared to 46 percent in 2011, were optimistic about the country’s future. Likewise, support for the reconciliation campaign remains high at 81 percent.
Releasing the survey at a news conference in Kabul, the Asia Foundation deputy country representative said: “Security continues to be the biggest indicator of both optimism and pessimism for Afghans.”
Abdullah Ahmadzai added: “But it is clear that life goes on as Afghans express deep-seated concerns for jobs, education, public services, political participation and a better life. This survey helps to give us a sense of citizens’ priorities, needs and views.”
Conducted in June, the survey polled 6,300 Afghan citizens in all 34 provinces. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.1 percent. Forty-percent of respondents expressed optimism and 35 percent a pessimistic outlook, citing security as the primary factor for their assessment.
While at the national level respondents cited security as the biggest problem facing Afghanistan, followed by unemployment and corruption, 70 percent of those polled called unemployment the biggest problem at the local level.
The lack of electricity and roads was cited as the two other big problems at the local level, according to the survey that gave a sense of citizens’ priorities, needs and views.
Ahmadzai hoped the findings would help bridge the gap in understanding between the international community, the Afghan government and local communities.
Fifty-three percent of the respondents said their families were more prosperous today than they were during the Taliban era. Exactly half of Afghans saw improvement in their household financial wellbeing in the past year and 51 percent said access to schools had increased.
Nine in 10 respondents agreed women and men should have equal educational opportunities. Two thirds of Afghans surveyed think women should be allowed to work outside their homes.
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