Water Insecurity: An Ongoing Threat to the Future of Afghanistan



A brief message about the water crisis:

Water is essential. There is no doubting it. So important in fact that in many ancient cultures, it was seen as an element of its own, and worshipped for its divine-like properties of providing nourishment for all. For those of us living in fortunate parts of the world, we may take water for granted. Through adequate infrastructure, our societies have lessened the burden for the access to water (though that isn't to disregard the challenges our communities may still face). Yet in countries such as Afghanistan, its citizens are majorly in dire need for clean, drinkable water.


Afghanistan is a land-locked country that boasts an array of biodiverse regions that make up the country. It is home to five major water basins, whose yearly water source primarily originates from snowfall in the mountain regions. According to an International Water Management Institute (IWMI) report on water resources in Afghanistan, "the country has 55 km3 of surface water and 20 km3 of groundwater while water availability is about 2500 m3/cap.yr." (Habibi, Anceno, et.al, 245). The water is sourced mainly from five major water basins: Amu Darya, Harirud-Murghab, Helmand, Kabul, and Northern. With a total estimate of 75 billion m3 of water available from these basins, only 33% of the surface water is used (Qureshi 7). To sum up the report, the availability of water is not the concern. Afghanistan has an abundance of clean, usable water. The concern encompasses the accessibility to water resources and the lack of measures available to maintain a system for this access. The lack of access jeopardizes the agricultural and rural livelihoods of Afghans, exacerbates droughts, and inhibits usage of clean water for everyday usage.

According to the United Nations, "the water crisis is not due to a physical absence of freshwater, rather the mismanagement and lack of investment in water supplies" (Parwani). Yet, water scarcity remains a rising cause for the displacement of over 1.5 million Afghans. Afghanistan's decades of conflicts has left the country without a stable social, political, and economic system. This includes its ability to form infrastructures for management in natural resources, such as water. The current numbers of accessible, clean water has improved, and by 2016, "the percentage of safe water supply has risen to 45%" as compared to 27% in 2011" (Gupta). However, risk for disease in the water supply still poses a threat if the irrigation and water management systems aren't able to hold up. The international community has contributed a great deal of resources into supporting the government system, ministries and directories for the management of Afghanistan’s natural resources through policy implementations such as the 2009 Water Law (Groninger). Without a greater centralized and organized department to oversee formal irrigation systems, and enforce environmental and developmental regulations, Afghans rely heavily on informal systems of irrigation for agriculture, as well as consumption of water.


"Improving the country’s water governance—the social, legal, and administrative systems that guide how water is distributed and used—may help it avoid both internal and regional conflicts by stabilizing its economy and its citizens’ livelihoods." (Hessami, Elizabeth).


The future of Afghanistan's ability to combat its water crisis is complicated. The future relies on the ability to educate the citizens, provide cooperation between the people and government, the government's coordination with neighboring countries through hydrodiplomacy, and infrastructure. As international organizations continue to pour in resources to provide the education, training, infrastructure, and financial aid for assisting the Afghan people, improvements are being made. Yet we have to understand that in order to continuously combat this crisis, our efforts to help the Afghan people are long term initiatives that will take years to produce substantial impact. Nevertheless, we, the international community organizations compromised of grassroots movements, cultural centers, non-profits, NGO's, and more, can help navigate through the complications of Afghanistan's water crisis. The ultimate goal is to provide the means for building lasting social, economic, and political foundations for the self governance, and self reliance of the Afghan people, for at the end of the day, they are the future of their country. This is why we here at Afghans Empowered, are finding our own ways, no matter how small or large an impact, to provide support for the Afghan people, as they learn to combat the issues of water accessibility.


Launching our first ever fundraiser since the establishment of Afghans Empowered, we've partnered with Mothers of Afghanistan, an organization based in the U.K., to raise money to fund one community water well project in Afghanistan. We are optimistic about the impact that one water well can have in a community. Built with the proper mechanisms, this single well will provide clean, drinkable water free of disease, and lead to less illness and deaths in the communities that can access this well. The infrastructure of the plan is simple, yet durable, and will withstand environmental elements greater than shallow, informal wells.


This fundraiser will prove to be a positive learning experience: challenging us to navigate and master the art of professional fundraising through the savvy use of social media, awareness outreach, and campaigning. It's become a foundation for our ability to present ourselves and our mission to our Afghan communities through social platforms, recruiting friends and family from far and near to help bolster the trust and support we need in order to advance our organization. We tip our hats to Mothers of Afghanistan, for their well organized project campaigns. With plans for the budget, build, and other logistics in hand, this organization is making strides towards providing crucial assistance to families and communities in need of resources. They are also unifying organizations and widening their impact by inviting support through satellite fundraisers, such as ours. Finding ourselves embarking on our first journey towards donation campaigns, we at Afghans Empowered are delighted to begin our fundraiser for building a water well.


To donate to our cause, visit our Home page, and find our donations link under our Fundraisers section. Help us reach our goal for our project.



To share your thoughts, opinions, and research on the water crisis, email us at community@afghansempowered.org to be featured.




Sources:

Gupta, Joydeep. “Polluted Waters Bring Disease and Death to Afghans.” The Third Pole, 22 Jan. 2016, www.thethirdpole.net/2017/07/27/polluted-waters-bring-disease-and-death-to-afghans/.

Habib, H., et al. “Jumpstarting Post-Conflict Strategic Water Resources Protection from a Changing Global Perspective: Gaps and Prospects in Afghanistan.” Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 129, 2013, pp. 244–259., doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.07.019.

Hessami, Elizabeth. “As Afghanistan's Water Crisis Escalates, More Effective Water Governance Could Bolster Regional Stability.” New Security Beat, 11 July 2018, www.newsecuritybeat.org/2018/07/afghanistans-water-crisis-escalates-effective-water-governance-bolster-regional-stability/.

Parwani, Soraya. “Is Water Scarcity a Bigger Threat Than the Taliban in Afghanistan?” – The Diplomat, For The Diplomat, 10 Oct. 2018, thediplomat.com/2018/10/is-water-scarcity-a-bigger-threat-than-the-taliban-in-afghanistan/.

Qureshi, Asad Sawar. “Water Resources Management in Afghanistan: The Issues and Options.” Pakistan Country Series, vol. 14, June 2002.

Razzaq, Abdur. “POLICY: WATER SCARCITY MAY DISRUPT PAK-AFGHAN RELATIONS.” DAWN.COM, 25 Nov. 2018, www.dawn.com/news/1447512.







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