Resource Growth Corridor Water Strategy, Afghanistan

SectorSector: Water & Wastewater

CostCost: Confidential

ClientClient: World Bank

locationLocation: Afghanistan

project DetailsProject Details

In the world today, 1.1 billion people live without access to clean drinking water and 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation. There is a crisis in the management of water and billions of people suffer.

In Afghanistan, access to an improved water source is among the lowest in the world. Only 15% of Kabul is connected to the piped water supply system. In 2004, the mortality rate of children under 5 was as high as 25%. Half of these deaths were caused by water-borne diseases.

Afghanistan is an impoverished underdeveloped country, one of the world's poorest, with 42% of the population on less than $1 a day. In the World Bank's Doing Business Index 2012, it ranks 160 out of 183 economies and is shown 4th in the most Dangerous Countries list 2013. But despite this, Afghanistan is transitioning from a state-based model to a free market economy as it continues to rebuild from nearly 30 years of conflict. Its dependence on international aid (roughly 90% of its national budget), is highly unsustainable and it is predicted that post 2014 (when foreign troops leave and aid starts decreasing) the country could face complete economic collapse. Improving infrastructure (including water supply and sanitation) and maximising income from its mineral deposits are key to securing its future prospects. It is estimated that Afghanistan could double its GNP through mining, with a total of nearly $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits. To realise both of these aims, and despite the challenging environment of this post-conflict country, it is vital to use British and other International expertise.

The overall objective was to assist the Government in preparing a "Resource Growth Corridor" strategy anchored to oncoming mining investments. The World Bank, who was assisting with this strategy, commissioned Pell Frischmann to undertake a Water Strategy study to identify solutions to critical water-related issues, as well as identify areas of potential public investment.

The main challenges for water supply in Afghanistan include:

  • An estimated increase in per capita water demand of up to 300% in Kabul.
  • The fragile nature of security within the country which limits the mobility of personnel;
  • Decades of war and neglect has led to severely dilapidated infrastructure;
  • Aged infrastructure, including asbestos-cement used for older pipes;
  • 40% of non-revenue water (inc. illegal connections);
  • a lack of local experts;
  • widespread poverty;
  • the pollution of shallow groundwater because of a lack of sanitation; and
  • poor service quality of piped water supply, including service interruptions that are partly caused by unreliable electricity supply.

The key challenge for this project was to develop sustainable water strategy that had the following elements:

  1. Delivering wider social benefits for water
  2. Developing an economically viable solution to enable mining to "kick-start" the Afghan economy

 There were three distinct elements to this project:

  1. A review of the current and future water needs for Kabul and the proposed copper mine at Aynak.
  2. A review of the current water needs in the Northern River basin, giving particular consideration to options for the location of an oil refinery.

An assessment of water supply sources and infrastructure requirements in order to determine a water resource strategy for the Kabul and Northern River basins.