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2015 | 16 | 40-52
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Afghanistan’s Transboundary Rivers and Regional Security

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Aside from the issues peace and stability, one of Afghanistan’s most vital needs is safe and reliable supplies of water. But Afghanistan faces certain economic, political, institutional problems to develop water resources potential. These problems will increase as the years go by. Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries, with an economy largely based on subsistence agriculture. Afghan farmers depend on reliable, year-round sources of surface water and groundwater. Seasonal flows of streams and rivers fed by melting snowpack high in Afghanistan’s mountains recharge alluvial aquifers located in populated valleys and provide city dwellers with drinking water. The current population of Afghanistan is about 31 million and it is projected to increase by nearly 80 percent by the year 2050 to approximately 56 million. This will raise demand on the country’s already economic stressed water resources. Almost all of the river basins are transboundary in the country. The Country due to the political unrest has not participated in many of the agreements regulating water resources in Central Asia. its current “non-player” and "outsider" status of the Central Asian Hydropolitics has to be changed when starting water resources development. This could create an international dispute in future regional water sharing discussions. In addition, recent research suggests that global climate change could alter precipitation patterns in Afghanistan. In particular, both the amount and the timing of snowfall received at higher elevations could change, impacting the major source of water for many areas in Afghanistan. Development of Afghanistan’s most transboundary water resources is a vital need for its own national interest, but it is also directly related with a transboundary water management dispute issue in the region. In other words, Afghanistan should find the best way to develop its transboundary water resources for national development as well as peace and stability of the region. But this development won't be so easy if current amount of water use of riparian states will be same when Afghanistan plans to release smaller amount of water.
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  • Hydropolitics Academy Association, Güfte Sokak No: 8/9 TR 06680 Kavaklıdere Çankaya, Ankara, Turkey
  • [1] S. Aslov, 2003b. IFAS 10 years (decisions and events), International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea Executive Committee, Dushanbe.
  • [2] United States Senate. 2011. Avoiding water wars: Water scarcity and Central Asia's growing importance for stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A Majority Staff Report prepared for the use of the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate.
  • [3] L. Schroeder, T. Ure, “River Basin Organization and Governance in Afghanistan”. The XVth World Water Congress of the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) Edinburgh, Scotland, May 25-29, 2015.
  • [4] M. King and B. Sturtewagen 2010. “Making the Most of Afghanistan’s River Basins Opportunities for Regional Cooperation” Report of The East West Institute New York –USA.
  • [5] S. Horsman 2008 “Afghanistan And Transboundary Water Management On The Amu Darya: A Political History“, Central Asian Waters - Part 2: Research Papers. Rahaman M.M. & Varis O. (eds.): Central Asian Waters, pp. 63-74. Water & Development Publications - Helsinki University of Technology.
  • [6] J. Allouche, “The governance of Central Asian waters: National interests versus regional cooperation” (2007), pp. 49-53.
  • [7] D. W Rycroft and K. Wegerich, “The three blind spots of Afghanistan: Water fow, irrigation development and the impact of climate change” (2009) p. 3.
  • [8] Jon Campbell, “A dry and ravaged land: Investigating water resources in Afghanistan” January 4, 2015.
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