The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Afghanistan water resources; a strategic tool for regional cooperation

Afghanistan is a land locked country and is characterized by a rugged mountainous landscape. The economy of the country is based on agricultural products and livestock. As majority of the rural population is small subsistence farmers who live of small plots of land, management of water resources is a vital factor for the economic growth and to meet the people’s needs for food and fiber. Besides, the country’s water can be a strategic tool for regional cooperation. Dr Farooq Azam, Advisor to the Ministry of Water and Energy by pointing the importance of water resources in the country has recently told the state-run ‘Shariat’ newspaper that Almighty Allah has granted the Afghan soil with lots of blessings, one of which is more water. “If we manage our water re sources well, our neighbors will need us as much as we need their ports. If we manage our water resources properly, we and our neighbors will all be prosperous. Water can be served as a strategic tool for regional cooperation, and Afghanistan will be at the top of the list of benefits,” Farooq Azam said. Pointing to management of the country’s water resources, Farooq Azam said that it was not an easy and simple work, stressing that the management of water resources required professional assessment and hard work. He said that the country’s ministry of water and energy has constructed 140 check dams in the past one year and the ministry was planning to construct more check dams this year, adding that the ministry has also worked on construction of some small and medium dams and the work on the dams was ongoing. He further said that . A check dam is a small dam constructed across a drainage ditch, swale, or channel to lower the velocity of flow. Reduced runoff velocity reduces erosion and gullying in the channel and allows sediments to settle out. Dr Farooq Azam by pointing to challenges facing the ministry of water and energy in connection with management of the country’s resources said economic sanctions on Afghanistan and lack of professional cadres were two big challenges facing the ministry of water and energy. “With the withdrawal and defeat of the US, a large number of professional cadres have evacuated from Afghanistan, which has been a big loss for our country. We do have professional cadres for small and medium dams but not for big dams,” Azam said, adding that they are working to address challenges. He said that they were working to manage the country’s water resources as the ministry of water and energy was working and has paid particular attention to managing the country’s water. Afghanistan has both surface water and groundwater resources. The country’s surface water resources can be highly seasonal, and availability can vary significantly across Afghanistan. Water stress is moderate as approximately 55 percent of freshwater resources are withdrawn and the annual per capita freshwater availability is slightly high. Snowmelt during the late spring and summer is key to replenishing water resources, particularly for major rivers in the east and northeast. Water is scarce in the deserts and steppes throughout the south and west. The Hindu Kush’s glaciers are melting due to rising temperature caused by climate change. This is reducing a natural water storage mechanism that protects against drought in the Amu Darya and Kabul River Basins. Higher evaporation rates caused by warmer temperatures will significantly reduce water availability over the course of the century. Afghanistan manages its surface waters through five basins: Kabul, Helmand, Harirud-Murghab, Northern, and Amu Darya. The Hindu Kush Mountains form the headwaters of all river basins. Most basins conclude their flows in low-lying deserts, wetlands, or inland lakes and seas. However, the Kabul River, which is a tributary of the Indus River, drains to the Arabian Sea. The Kabul and Amu Darya River Basins contain 83 percent of surface water. The Amu Darya River Basin includes several small lakes, including the Chaqmaqtin and Zorkul in the Wakhan Corridor and Lake Shiva in the north The Amu Darya River is one of the longest and most important rivers in Central Asia, with Afghanistan contributing 15 percent of its totals flow. The Amu Darya River is also vital to regional agriculture and historically sustained the Aral Sea. The Band-e Amir Lakes are located west of Kabul in the Kabul Basin. The Helmand River is the longest in Afghanistan and flows almost 800 miles before reaching the Hamun Wetlands along the border with Iran. The Helmand Basin also contains brackish lakes and wetlands, including the Nawur and Abe Istada and Gowd-I Zerrah. The Harirud and Murghab Rivers (HarirudMurghab Basin) flow into desert oases in Turkmenistan. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is committed to managing natural resources for development and self-sufficiency of the country. The Islamic Emirate is also committed to managing the country’s water resources and it is time to manage it as water resources management is vital for the country’s economic growth. It is worth mentioning that a comprehensive assessment of all incomplete dams has been already carried out in the country. There are hopes that the remaining work on the incomplete dams will be soon resumed under a well-thoughtout plan. Mashal Noori

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.