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The local population is the center of gravity in counterinsurgency, and the first step toward winning the population is to understand it. Security forces must know the people's concerns, hopes, grievances — how families and individuals think and live. To gain a better understanding of the lives of the people in Iraq's Anbar Province (once one of the most violent areas in the country), RAND carried out a survey of living conditions in the province, conducting face-to-face interviews with a random sample of 1,200 heads of Anbari households.

Building on a 2004 United Nations Development Programme survey, the 2008 survey asked questions about demographics, employment, income and standards of living, education, health, housing and public infrastructure, the effects of war, and agriculture. The survey findings reveal that many improvements have occurred since 2004. However, the data also expose the extent to which Anbari households have suffered from the effects of war, including the death, disappearance, detainment, arrest, and displacement of family members. The survey findings should foster greater understanding of current conditions in al-Anbar and help identify areas on which to focus future assistance.

The research described in this report was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense and conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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