National unity government drafting a policy to manage water resources: Massoud

The water bodies in Afghanistan contain 75 billion cubic meters, of which only 30 percent remains in the country and the rest flows to neighboring countries.

Most of the water freely flows to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Iran. Notwithstanding adequate water resources, Afghanistan has to import electricity from its neighboring countries.

According to Ahmad Zia Massoud, President Ashraf Ghani’s special envoy for reforms and good governance, regulating and managing water resources is among the new government’s top priorities.

The previous government, he says, lacked the policy to manage and preserve abundant water resources. “The national unity government (NUG) is drafting a policy to manage water resources so that it is not wasted anymore,” Mr. Massoud said on Saturday.

The major water resources in Afghanistan are divided into five regions: Amu, Kabul, Helmand, Harirod and the Northern region. The level of rainfall differs in each region.

Notwithstanding adequate water resources, Afghanistan has to import electricity from its neighboring countries 

“Water is not merely used for agriculture and farming; it is also used to generate electricity,” says Shafiqullah Sahil, an analyst. “While we have abundant water resources, the government continues to import electricity from neighboring countries.”

There are also disputes over water with neighboring countries. Fahim Khan, a resident of Kabul, says the new Afghan government must not only take steps to regulate and manage water inside the country, but it must resolve the disputes over water.

“The focus should be more on water and the agreements signed with the neighboring countries,” says Mr. Khan. “There should be no wastage of water and people of Afghanistan must benefit from water resources.”

A large majority of people in Afghanistan work in agricultural farms and agricultural products make 40 percent of Afghanistan’s gross national product (GDP). “If water of this country is managed well and land is cultivated as required, gross national product will register a remarkable jump,” says Nahida Nasim, a Kabul-based activist.