The Politics of Water Security between Afghanistan and Iran

This study states that increasing development and water consumption in upstream Afghanistan negatively affects water supply to Iran, thereby exacerbating latent tensions between the two countries. It further adds that Iran perceives the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Afghan side of the basins as a direct security threat. The paper also points to weak water governance management between the two countries, a gap that must be addressed through concerted and proactive collaboration between the two countries.

The study finds that in addition to political tensions, climactic changes alter patterns of water flow and availability in the shared basins, leading some farmers to claim that insufficient water supply encourages them to plant poppy. It adds that increasing human strain on the Sistan wetlands due to mass migrations is unsustainable and may lead to a major environmental disaster.

The study recommends updating the treaty provisions that regulate the shared waters of Helmand River through concerted and proactive collaboration between the two countries, as the only means of addressing the increased social and environmental pressures on the Sistan wetland, as well as Afghanistan’s plans for construction of hydro-electric dams.

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