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Water resources under threat





Photo: (c) DACAAR
DACAAR presented important facts about the effects of climate change on Afghanistan’s water resources at an international congress in South Korea.


“I had the honour of delivering my research at this congress and let the participants know about the statistics of Afghanistan’s climate change. This was never done before.”

Mohamad Hassan Saffi, DACAAR’s Senior Hydrogeologist and engineer, participated in the International Association of Hydrogeologist (IAH) 45th Congress held from 09th-14th of September 2018.

At the congress in Daejeon in South Korea more than 130 university professors, researchers and other experts participated, and 586 professional presentations were shown.

Water resources are deteriorating

The background for the congress is somber not least because of the effects of climate change.

Water resources in many countries are deteriorating. Water is not only a valuable natural resource, but essential for life and the planet. Yet, surface waters are increasingly polluted due to rapid population growth, improper disposal of sewage, large scale agricultural activities and industrial development. As a consequence, we may risk that groundwater will be the only water supply in the future.

Problems of overutilisation and pollution are not only affecting some of the world’s largest aquifers such as China, United States and India, but also many other countries, including Afghanistan.

Now, more than ever before, the international groundwater community of hydrogeologists is being called upon to tackle problems of unprecedented complexity and severity.

It takes 4-7 hours to fetch unsafe drinking water

Duing his presentation, DACAAR Engineer, Mohamad Hassan Saffi highligted the challenges facing Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Afghanistan and the issue of sustainability.

The national access to safe drinking water in Afghanistan covers 45.5%. A large percentage of the population spends 4-7 hours to collect their drinking water from ditches, canals and rivers which often are polluted and carries water borne diseases.

The national access to sanitation covers 8.4 %, but only around 2.4% of the rural population has access to sanitation.

48% of the schools have access to WASH services and mortality rate of children under five is estimated to be 97 in 1000. 47 % of these are due to lack of access to safe WASH facilities, according to the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (2015).

DACAAR research findings

Mohamad Hassan Saffi also presented the impressive research done by DACAAR involving 3481 functional drinking water points (DWPs) where water samples were collected and water quality was tested.

The results indicate that a considerable percentage of drinking water points were contaminated by geologic occurrences and man- made activities.

Over-pumping of aquifers for irrigation has caused to dry up many karezes (ancient water supply systems in Afghanistan; = sub-horizontal tunnels), springs and large diameter shallow wells.

Data shows that groundwater tables have been progressively lowered due to over-pumping and low recharge and that the Arsenic and Fecal Coliform Bacteria contamination are higher than the National Drinking Water Quality Standard (NDWQS) allows.

Geophysical study to determine the groundwater
Location: Balk University, Nahr-I Shahi District of Balkh Province
Introducing Afghanistan to the world

Fortunately, knowledge is growing along with new technologies capable of addressing the challenges that also Afghanistan is facing.

The International Association of Hydrogeologist (IAH) 45th Congress in South Korea not only aimed at sharing experiences, knowledge and best practices on Hydrogeology by international experts, universities professors and researchers; It also aimed at applying preventive techniques, technologies and water resources information management tools for mitigation of worldwide water resources in the context of climate change.

Engineer Mohamad Hassan Saffi is confident DACAAR will benefit from the conference.

“It was a great opportunity for me to interact with other hydrogeologists and learn about new technologies. It will help me to predict upcoming problems and to find a solution.”

He visited the congress innovation and technology lab where newly invented and upgraded technology was displayed.

DACAAR’s Senior Hydrogeologist is now back in Kabul.

“This congress was a good place to learn, disseminate knowledge and discuss the challenges and opportunities. Meanwhile, it was a great opportunity to introduce Afghanistan to this world,” Mohamad Hassan Saffi concludes.

Read more about the congress here: https://www.iah2018.org/
Read about DACAAR’s Groundwater Monitoring System.
Water Quality Testing Laboratory.