Starting from scratch – building social research capacity in Afghanistan

Matthew Warshaw
D3 Systems Inc., United States

Rafiq Kakar, Torpekay Habibzei and Zemarak Mohsini
ACSOR-Surveys, Afghanistan


The road to conducting survey research that meets international standards is one not easily paved in Afghanistan. Violence, illiteracy in both urban and rural areas, segments of the population hostile to research, and cultural constraints on access to the family in general and women in particular all have had to be faced in the process of building a venture that has grown from simple urban polls of Kabul to multistage, nationally representative random survey samples.

The Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research (ACSOR) was founded in 2003 by D3 Systems, Inc. The firm is a joint venture between the American company D3 Systems and the Bulgarian company BBSS – TNS (both ESOMAR members). ACSOR is, to our knowledge, the only registered for profit market research agency in Afghanistan. Other organizations that conduct research have been registered as either advertising agencies or non-profit research organizations. ACSOR-Surveys has conducted qualitative and quantitative research projects for an international client group including ABC News, the Asia Foundation, Areeba Telecommunications, the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, the US State Department, 121 Research, Princeton Survey Research Associates, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Charney Research, the Shin Joho Center of Japan, Tetrapak, TNS Hong Kong, various Afghan government ministries, and other clients. ACSOR would like to give particular thanks to the Asia Foundation for its support of our research capacity building efforts through both funding of research projects and support for training opportunities.