Afghanistan in 2016: A Survey of the Afghan People

from The Asia Foundation
Published on 07 Dec 2016 View Original


Afghanistan in 2016: A Survey of the Afghan People is e Asia Foundation’s twelfth annual public opinion survey in Afghanistan. e longest-running barometer of Afghan opinions, the Survey has gathered the views of more than 87,000 Afghans since 2004 and provides a longitudinal portrait of evolving public perceptions of security, the economy, governance and government services, elections, media, women’s issues, and migration. Unique in its broad scope and long duration, the Survey tracks trend lines on questions of special interest to Afghans and the international community alike.

This year, the downward trajectory in national mood which began in 2013 has continued: in 2016, just 29.3% of Afghans say the country is moving in the right direction, the lowest level of optimism recorded in the Survey since it began in 2004, and down from 36.7% in 2015. While the drop in 2015 can be partly explained by post-election disappointments after the exuberance and campaign promises preceding the 2014 presidential elections, the lower optimism in 2016 appears to reflect a sustained change in sentiment related to perceptions of security, the economy, and government achievements. Early 2016 saw the failure of peace talks with the Taliban, while a recent peace agreement with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Hezb-i-Islami has not been welcomed by all Afghan political groups. Afghans appear to have less confidence in every level of government, yet they also have less desire to emigrate. Despite a worsening economic and security environment, Afghanistan has seen a high number of returnees from European countries.

This year’s Survey polled 12,658 Afghan respondents, 52.7% of them male and 47.4% female, representing 16 ethnic groups from all 34 provinces in the country. Face-to-face interviews were conducted between August 31 and October 1 by a team of 1,003 trained Afghan enumerators matched with respondents by gender (men interviewed men and women interviewed women). All enumerators are indigenous to the provinces where they conducted interviews. Survey results have been weighted to be gender balanced and nationally representative using the most recent population data (2015–2016) released by the Afghan Central Statistics Organization. e total sample consisted of 25% urban households and 75% rural households, and this year’s margin of error is ±1.6%, based on a design effect of 3.45 and a confidence interval of 95%.

The Asia Foundation’s longstanding research partner, the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research, conducted all survey fieldwork and logistics, while its parent company, D3 Systems, Inc., provided analytical and methodological support. As in the 2013, 2014, and 2015 surveys, Sayara Research conducted third-party validation of fieldwork, a best practice for survey research in challenging environments. Together with its partners, the Foundation is committed to quality-control processes guided by principles of validity and reliability. e survey data is available for further analysis at

This year’s Survey includes several new questions proposed by key users of the survey findings. New questions explore Afghans’ views on what is going well in their local area, their awareness of legal rights and public defender services, Internet access, reasons to migrate, and remittances from family abroad. A question on whether respondents have a tazkera (national identity card) and a six-item scale used to measure the prevalence of disabilities were added. As before, the Survey includes measures of both fact and opinion. An in-depth discussion of the survey methodology is provided in Appendix 1 of this report.