Contact Us  |  Search  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us For Applicants For Grant Recipients Funded Projects Email Updates

Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

Enhanced engagement in research on the Kabul River basin (EKaRB)

PI: Muhammad Azeem Ali Shah (, International Water Management Institute
U.S. Partner: Lauren Hay, United States Geological survey
Project Dates: November 2015 - April 2019

Project Overview

The Indus river system originates in the Himalayas in northern Pakistan, flows across three provinces, and meets the Arabian Sea at its southern end. It has many tributaries that contribute to its flow, and one of its most important is the Kabul River system, which contributes almost 19 MAF of water at Attock annually (IUCN, 2013). Historical data from 1937 through 2008 show a considerable decrease in annual flows in the Kabul river system, from 28 to 19 MAF. The possible reasons could be climatic variability, persistent drought, or enhanced use of water in Afghanistan. The Kabul river basin (KRB) has its unique geographical importance as it originates from Pakistan, enters Afghanistan and then comes back to Pakistan. In that sense Pakistan and Afghanistan are both upper and lower riparian states. Its tributaries—namely Bara, Konar, and Swat—originate in Pakistan. These contribute to the flows of KRB, which covers 348 miles in Afghanistan and then enters Pakistan to join the Indus River at Attock. It is in the interest of both Afghanistan and Pakistan to have evidence-based knowledge on the variability in flows of KRB and future impacts of climate change.

The lead institute on this project, IMWI, has partnered with the National Centre of Excellence in Geology in Peshawar, with the U.S. Government-supported partner being the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). In addition, IWMI has made contacts with the Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water, which has shown keen interest in the project idea has indicated that Kabul University may become involved. The project researchers will investigate the impact of climate change on the highly varying flows of KRB, where the ratio between lowest and highest annual flows is 1:3 (IUCN, 2013). Afghanistan has planned multiple storage facilities on KRB for irrigation and power generation purposes, and these will directly impact supplies of water to the Indus river basin. This could result in potential transboundary water conflicts in the absence of any treaty between the two riparian states. In order to facilitate any meaningful negotiation between the two states, the first step is to develop a scientific repository of evidence based research on KRB that provides insights into future water resource development scenarios in Afghanistan with and without climate change impacts. Pakistan’s economy is heavily dependent on its agricultural produce, with about 70% of its population earning a living through agriculture. Because surface water from rivers is a key input to agriculture, any uncertainty in future water supplies will directly affect the economy of Pakistan and increase poverty. On the Afghan side, the project aims to contribute to the important goal of sustainable agriculture-led economic growth. This will be achieved by informing Afghan policy makers through the dissemination of project findings about the impact of climate change on the variability of flows in KRB and the need to adapt to the changing climate patterns.

Summary of Recent Activities

4-255 National Media Dialogue
Participants of a national media dialogue event wherein media outlets were introduced to the project and its impact (photo courtesy of Azeem Shah).
Over the past quarter, the PI and his team completed the additional analysis of WEAP model. They have also developed typical water supply and demand scenarios which were tested by using the WEAP model for the Kabul River Basin. The total water demand, the total unmet demand, and changes in river flow on both sides of Afghanistan and Pakistan and in the river basin as whole were assessed using the model. In addition, this PEER project has found an excellent uptake opportunity as the IWMI Pakistan office is in the final stages of receiving a grant from USAID Pakistan mission for the project entitled "Water Management for Enhanced Productivity". This is a large project spanning over a time period of 5 years which has a dedicated component/outcome for "Improved AFG-PAK Collaboration on Water Policy, Practice and Management". The proposed budget for this component is US$ 1.5 Million and it will build on the results and technical outputs generated through the EKaRB project. The PI of EKaRB project will assume the role of Deputy Chief of Party in the upcoming USAID project and also look after the work on the AFG-PAK component. Key outputs will include: Establish and Support an AFG-PAK Network of Water Professionals Knowledge Exchange Platform Capacity Development of AFG-PAK Water Professionals (This will mainly include training of Afghan water professionals on the models (HEC-GeoHMS, WEAP), geodatabase developed in EKaRB project, and legal instruments available as mechanisms for sharing of water resources of Kabul River Basin). Study Tour of Shared River Basin Exchange Visit of Shared Challenges The PI had multiple interactions with USAID local mission and the government and non government sector in order to build on the work carried out in EKaRB project in the last quarter. In the next few months, the PI and his team will start planning an international workshop to be held in October 2018 in this quarter. They plan to invite PIs from Central Asia including Afghanistan.

Kabul River Basin Database

Back to PEER Cycle 4 Grant Recipients