Guess what? More Afghans are in despair- economically, socially and educationally – one year since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, as per a new Gallup survey. The surveys in Afghanistan, had been conducted in July and August 2022, coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the Taliban’s takeover, which shows that life is worse for Afghans than it has been at any point during the past decade — or for anyone else on the planet.
- Economic state: Since the Taliban came to power in August 2021, the country’s economy has contracted sharply, leading to rising food insecurity and shrinking household incomes. On top of this, prices have increased rapidly, with high inflation reducing the value of people’s earnings and pushing more into a state of deprivation.
- Nine in 10 Afghans say they are finding it “difficult” or “very difficult” to get by on their present household income. While Afghans have struggled significantly in the past five years, the 71% who currently say they are finding it very difficult is a record high — and represents an increase of 14 percentage points from 2021.
- Social state: Almost all Afghans — 98% — rate their life so poorly that they are considered suffering over the past year. This percentage tops the previous high of 94% in 2021, measured as the Taliban seized full control and the U.S. withdrew its troops.
- While Afghan women held a slight edge over men in 2021, suffering is now universal among men and women: 98% of women and 97% of men in 2022 rate their life poorly enough to be considered suffering.
- State of women: Gallup surveys show that after one year under the Taliban, a record-low 22% of Afghans say women in their country are treated with respect and dignity — down from the previous low of 31% in 2021.
- This percentage had been drifting downward over the past several years as the Taliban gained more territory in Afghanistan, but since they took over, it has dropped 22 percentage points. The percentage of Afghan women who say women are treated with respect has dropped from 26% in 2021 to just 12% in 2022.
- Education: A record-low 11% of Afghans say children in their country have the opportunity to learn and grow. Afghans’ perceptions of children having the opportunity to learn and grow nosedived to 24% in the early days of the Taliban’s rule in 2021, when the group closed all schools across the country.
- Fewer than one in five Afghans (19%) in 2022 say they are satisfied with the educational system or schools where they live, effectively tying the lowest level of satisfaction measured in any country that Gallup has surveyed in 16 years.
- View of US leadership: Just under one in five Afghans (18%) currently approve of U.S. leadership, a modest improvement from the record low of 14% amid the U.S. military’s much-criticized withdrawal from the country in August 2021.
- Within Afghanistan, the U.S. remains popular among Afghanistan’s Hazara ethnic community; 53% are still supportive of U.S. leadership. However, among Pashtuns, the ethnic group that the Taliban’s core support comes from, U.S. approval stands at only 8%.
- In 2022, Afghans give the highest leadership ratings to another predominantly Sunni Muslim country, Saudi Arabia (40%), while one in four (25%) approve of the leadership of neighboring Iran. China and Russia — two countries seen as U.S. competitors, both globally and in Afghanistan — are viewed poorly by Afghans, with 14% approval, despite the Taliban’s warm ties with Beijing and Moscow.
Zoom out: The life of people of Afghanistan has been deteriorating ever since the Taliban returned to power in 2021. The country’s economy is in a shambles, millions of Afghans are going hungry, and women and girls continue to see more of their freedoms and respect stripped away by the day.
- The survey results reveal how there is despair surrounding the Afghans in their current situation. Women make up roughly half of the population in Afghanistan, however, they are being denied the opportunity to participate in any part of the society- be it education or social life.
- Further, the Taliban recently ordered judges to fully impose their interpretation of Sharia law — including potential public executions — which some experts fear could lead to even more loss of Afghans’ human rights.
The Taliban has been blaming the West for their current condition, however, despite differences the global community at large must realize that Afghanistan needs all the humanitarian help that it can in order to improve the lives of ordinary citizens.