Clear Rules and Qualified Staff for a Clean Water Supply

Access to drinking water and sustainable wastewater management depend most of all on qualified staff at the local level and on competent and efficient institutions. The German Government is therefore supporting Afghanistan’s efforts to establish the requisite legal and administrative structures and efficient management processes and to implement a strategic policy framework.


Many people in Afghanistan still have no access to clean water. Water is scarce and increasingly contaminated and overexploited. Basic sanitation is also inadequate. Apart from a few local systems in Kabul, Kunduz and Herat, Afghanistan lacks adequate wastewater treatment and disposal systems. All these problems have an adverse impact on public health. No new infrastructure has been installed and existing systems are in a poor state of repair. As a consequence, a large amount of water is lost through leaks. In addition to inadequate legislation, weak institutions and inefficient management and accounting, there is a lack of properly trained staff in the water sector.


Institutional, organisational and legal reforms in the water sector will improve the frameworks for sustainable water resources management in Afghanistan. The aim is to ensure that the Afghan people have access to safe and sustainable water and sanitation systems and to protect water resources. Economically viable and profitable water utilities are a key prerequisite for the attainment of this goal.

Measures & Results

In cooperation with Afghan partners, water industry frameworks have greatly improved in recent years. Through the provision of administrative and technical advice, the quality of drinking water in Afghanistan has increased considerably and many more households now have access to a clean water supply. Extensive advisory services and specialised technical, financial and accountancy training has been provided to the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (MUDH), the Afghan Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Cooperation (AUWSSC) and municipal water utilities. In the AUWSSC and subordinate local water utilities alone, more than 3,400 staff from various departments have undergone training within the project framework since 2008, as it is recognised that more efficient operation of the water utilities and commercially oriented management can generate profits which are essential to cover operating costs and pay for infrastructural development and maintenance.

In line with national water policy, the decentralisation of the water sector is planned: this means that decisions will in future be taken at the provincial level, not solely at ministerial level in the capital Kabul. The project therefore supports relevant Afghan institutions’ efforts to implement water policy as effectively as possible. This includes facilitating the development of water sector framework plans at both national and regional level.

In order to protect water resources for the long term, groundwater monitoring methods have been introduced in a number of areas. In the capital Kabul, for example, regular data collection and analysis are now taking place. Training has been provided for hydrogeologists working for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Energy and Water, building their capacities to designate water protection areas and implement initial conservation measures. In order to facilitate continuous monitoring of water quality, the project has initiated the process for establishing a laboratory at Kabul’s water utility company.

Furthermore, with project support, a policy framework on sustainable and environmentally compatible management of the water supply and sanitation has been developed and pilot wastewater treatment plants have been set up in Herat, Kunduz and Mazar-e Sharif.

At a glance

Activities in the provinces of Balkh, Herat
Water Sector Improvement Programme (WSIP)
Commissioned by:
German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Afghan ministries: Ministry of Economy (MoEc), Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (MUDH), Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW), Afghan Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Cooperation (AUWSSC), National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA)
Implementing organisations:
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Balkh, Herat, Kabul, Kunduz
Programme objective:
Improve the institutional, organisational and legal frameworks for sustainable urban water resources management in Afghanistan.
Overall term:
January 2014 – June 2022