Water is life

In Afghanistan, water is a precious and irreplaceable resource and is essential for agriculture and domestic use. Afghanistan is also one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which include alternating periods of drought and flooding. 

Droughts have been occurring with growing frequency since the 1990s, and the resulting water shortages make almost one third of the available farmland unusable. This has major implications for the economy. Making matters worse, the almost total loss of Afghanistan’s forest cover has led to soil erosion. This in turn prevents its increasingly overexploited groundwater resources from being adequately replenished, putting long-term water security at risk. 

The public water supply in Afghanistan has improved considerably since 2001. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 30% of the urban population now has access to piped water infrastructure, although the figure is lower – just 6% or so – in rural areas (as of 2015). Most rural communities source their water from natural springs, small rivers or streams, traditional rainwater harvesting systems, wells in gardens or backyards or boreholes. Due to the lack of a reliable water supply in many urban areas, local residents rely on public standpipes, open wells or water tankers. Many of the country’s women and children in particular have to walk long distances, in some cases several kilometres, to fetch water for their families. Many diseases are caused by contaminated water, with significant impacts on public health and therefore also on Afghanistan’s economy. 

The German Government is supporting the reconstruction of the country’s badly damaged water supply infrastructure and the environmentally compatible disposal of systems which are not fit for purpose. Germany is the lead international donor in Afghanistan’s urban water sector. It also provides advisory services for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Energy and Water and relevant authorities on developing sustainable, long-term river and water resources management structures and water supply and sanitation systems and supports Afghan partners’ efforts to improve the provision of technical training for installation and maintenance staff.
For more information about our work in the priority area of water, please see the project descriptions and the ‘Stories ’ section .

Our work in this sector

Expanding the Water Supply System to Improve Services in Kabul In order to ensure that the Afghan people have access to a regular supply of high-quality drinking water in adequate quantities, the German Government is supporting the development and expansion of the water system in the capital Kabul. more
Clean Water in Northern Afghanistan In order to upgrade the water supply system and improve the quality of drinking water in Afghanistan’s northern towns, the German Government is supporting the development of essential infrastructure. more
Clear Rules and Qualified Staff for a Clean Water Supply Access to drinking water and sustainable wastewater management depend most of all on qualified staff at the local level and on competent and efficient institutions. The German Government is therefore supporting Afghanistan’s efforts to establish the requisite legal and administrative structures and efficient management processes and to implement a strategic policy framework. more

Our stories

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