Afghanistan has five major river basins with an annual surface water flow of about 57 billion cubic meters. Afghanistan’s location as an upper riparian country makes it the source of water flowing into neighboring riparian countries of Iran, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. An upper riparian country for the most part, Afghanistan is located at the center of the region’s largest renewable sources of fresh waters, making the habitat of the people of this country quite well resourced in terms of access to fresh waters, particularly in comparison to the rest of the region.
As evident from regional and global experiences, sustainable management and development of water resources has the potential to become vital asset for regional cooperation and economic development. In addition to ensuring sustained access to water resources within the country, Afghanistan for example, can secure access to sea and trading ports, to the benefit of both the agricultural and industrial sectors.
To name one example, The Kokcha River Irrigation Scheme, the foundations for which was laid back in the 1970s could have irrigated more than 12,000 hectares of agricultural land, improved water supply to an additional 8,000 hectares, increased potential for future irrigation of more than 17,000 hectares and generated 10-20 KWs of electricity. Other sources estimate this river’s power generation capacity to be between 1000 to 2500 MWs. No wonder that while Afghanistan may be dependent on its neighbors, for access to the sea, or on the international community for financial resources, our rivers make the country least dependent on others for external sources of water. Afghanistan’s rivers therefore, are its great source of strength.