Afghanistan’s Transboundary Rivers and Regional Security
Güfte Sokak No: 8/9 TR 06680 Kavaklıdere Çankaya, Ankara, Turkey
Aside from the issues of 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 for the country’s already economically 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.
The development of Afghanistan’s most transboundary water resources is a vital need for its own national interest, but it is also directly related to 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 the current amount of water use of riparian states will be the same as when Afghanistan plans to release a smaller amount of water.
Keywords: Afghanistan’s Transboundary Rivers, Regional Water Security, Hydro Politics of Afghanistan, Central Asia’s Water, Central Asian Hydropolitics
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