Afghans remain largely unaware of any reconstruction project or foreign aid provided to them by the countries of Central Asia, according to a new public opinion survey conducted in Afghanistan by the San Francisco-based Asia Foundation, a major international nonprofit group, reported Silk Road Newsline.
Tajikistan was the only Central Asian country identified by just 1 percent of Afghan respondents when the poll measured their perceptions of which country has provided the most aid for the development projects in their area or district.
Provided with a list of foreign donors, none of the respondents identified any foreign aid projects from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan even though Uzbek engineers from Uzbekistan’s national railway company UTY have built the only existing railway line in Afghanistan between Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan’s second largest city, and Hairatan on the Uzbek-Afghan border that remains a critically important supply line for landlocked Afghanistan.
According to the survey, more than one third of respondents (35 percent) say the United States has provided the most aid in their local area. Respondents also identified Germany (9 percent), Japan (9 percent), Australia (5 percent), India (4 percent), Turkey (3 percent) and Sweden (3 percent). Two percent mentioned the United Kingdom, China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Canada, France and Norway, and less than 2 percent mentioned a wide range of other countries and agencies.
Seven percent of respondents say they do not know which country funded the development projects in their area.
“The Asia Foundation hopes that this survey will bridge the gap between the international community and Afghans, leading to better targeted development and reconstruction,” said Abdullah Ahmadzai, Asia Foundation Deputy Country Director for Afghanistan.
The survey also showed that optimism about the future is increasing in Afghanistan and that over half of Afghans think the country is moving in the right direction. Three quarters (75 percent) of respondents give central government performance a positive assessment, including 15 percent who say it is doing a very good job and 60 percent who say it is doing a somewhat good job.
“Insecurity topped the worries of most Afghans, but unemployment and corruption were also concerns, especially on a local level. However, the survey showed that confidence in central government was up with 75 per cent giving it a positive assessment,” Ahmadzai said.
Afghanistan in 2012: A Survey of the Afghan People is the eighth annual survey conducted by The Asia Foundation in Afghanistan and the broadest and most comprehensive public opinion poll in the country. A random, nationally representative sample of 6,290 Afghan citizens were polled in-person across all 34 provinces between June 17 and July 1, 2012.
The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.1 percent. It was conducted with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), and Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).