Despite Afghanistan’s rich water resources, the sector remains severely under-studied and under invested. Lack of technical knowledge pertinent to this field remains to be a major challenge inhibiting Afghanistan’s sustainable development and management of its rivers, particularly aiming at its catalytic role in economic development. Reasons are many. Years of conflict impeded regular data collection and destroyed valuable infrastructure. In addition, the politicization of this issue has discouraged attempts at studying it and understanding it sufficiently. This is while Afghanistan’s riparian neighbors built their skills in the area as well as developed their water infrastructure. The consequence of this lack of development in the sector is a wide gap in water specific knowledge in Afghanistan, making the country a later developed state as compared to its riparian neighbors.
To compensate for this lack in capacity and access, it is critical for Afghanistan to draw practical linkages between its water resources and major sectors that contribute a significant deal to economic development, such as agriculture and trade. It is equally important to strengthen the structural, institutional, legal and policy foundations of the country in this field, as well as shape a national discourse on transboundary water issues.
What impedes the last of the above objectives is the unfortunate dearth of sufficient information and awareness on the role of Afghanistan’s water resources in national economic development and on the significance of water resources development and management in improving people’s standard of living. While there are numerous researches conducted by international organizations on Afghanistan’s transboundary resources, there are not enough number of researches done by Afghan policy analysts, researchers, scholars or academicians. And although Afghans have begun to pursue educational careers focusing on transboundary water management or international water law, considering the existing capacity gaps and huge potential for knowledge production in the sector, these numbers are in need of urgent increase.
It is this objective of knowledge production and facilitating transparent access to existing sources of knowledge that drives Duran’s work and is the reason behind why we have made this Portal. A first of its kind, the Portal is a growing collection of existing research papers, policy and legal documents, maps, media analyses and audio and visual content, which we hope to continue to enrich, together with everyone with an interest in this subject.
Duran is confident that the Portal can serve as a first small contribution in strengthening knowledge base on Afghanistan’s transboundary waters and facilitate easier and transparent access to information for everyone.