Afghanistan's Unsustainable Waters

As the international troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, the country's ability to hold its fragile stability together remains uncertain. Underneath the fears of a security breakdown boils the larger possibility of an economic collapse. The country's revenues seem abysmal, and the mismanagement of billions of dollars in aid has turned it entirely dependent on foreign donations and the presence of foreign troops.

With Afghanistan being largely an agricultural country, investment in the water sector should have been a natural priority for sustainable economic development. Yet, that is not the case. In the Afghanistan National Development Strategy, a framework for allocating international aid, water does not figure as a core development sector. Only 5 percent of development has gone into the water sector during the past decade. Tensions have risen over water treaties with Iran and Pakistan, yet neither has been addressed. Along the border, villagers see their water flow into the neighboring countries without being able to use it for their own local fields. The scarcity of water has led to tensions between tribes and villages.

This project explores the reasons behind the lack of investment. How do unresolved trans-boundary issues with Iran and Pakistan affect donor attitudes toward investing in irrigation development? It also studies the link between instability in border regions and the neighboring countries' quest for continuing access to water flow from Afghanistan.

Water and the Fight Against Drugs in Afghanistan

Trans-boundary tensions have cast a shadow over Afghanistan’s water infrastructure - and that's bad news when the country is trying to fight its status as the world’s largest opium producer.

What Iran and Pakistan Want from the Afghans: Water

Iran and Pakistan depend on river basins that flow out of Afghanistan. And Afghans are growing paranoid that their neighbors are trying to take more water than the country can afford to give.