In Afghanistan, water is a precious and irreplaceable resource and is essential for agriculture and domestic use. Afghanistan is also one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which include alternating periods of drought and flooding.
Droughts have been occurring with growing frequency since the 1990s, and the resulting water shortages make almost one third of the available farmland unusable. This has major implications for the economy. Making matters worse, the almost total loss of Afghanistan’s forest cover has led to soil erosion. This in turn prevents its increasingly overexploited groundwater resources from being adequately replenished, putting long-term water security at risk.
The public water supply in Afghanistan has improved considerably since 2001. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 18% of the urban population now has access to piped water infrastructure, although the figure is lower – just 11% or so – in rural areas. Most rural communities source their water from natural springs, small rivers or streams, traditional rainwater harvesting systems, wells in gardens or backyards or boreholes. Due to the lack of a reliable water supply in many urban areas, local residents rely on public standpipes, open wells or water tankers. Many of the country’s women and children in particular have to walk long distances, in some cases several kilometres, to fetch water for their families. An estimated 30% of all diseases are caused by contaminated water, with significant impacts on public health and therefore also on Afghanistan’s economy.
The German Government is supporting the reconstruction of the country’s badly damaged water supply infrastructure and the environmentally compatible disposal of systems which are not fit for purpose. Germany is the lead international donor in Afghanistan’s urban water sector. It also provides advisory services for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Energy and Water and relevant authorities on developing sustainable, long-term river and water resources management structures and water supply and sanitation systems and supports Afghan partners’ efforts to improve the provision of technical training for installation and maintenance staff.
For more information about our work in the priority area of water, please see the project descriptions and the ‘Stories ’ section .