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)

Impacts of climate change on transboundary water treaties/sharing: a case study of Kabul River basin, Afghanistan

PI: Fahima SadeqiNezhad (, AZMA Technical and Vocational Institute
U.S. Partner: Devendra M. Amatya, USDA Forest Service Center for Forested Wetlands Research
Project Dates: December 2015 - May 2020

Project Overview

4-257 AZMA Workshop
The project PI conducts a workshop for engineering students at the AZMA Institute (photo courtesy of Dr. SadeqiNezhad).

One of the biggest challenges to mankind is climate change in the twenty-first century. The escalation in the frequency and severity of natural disasters and other extreme climate phenomena has been widely discussed in many countries around the world. Responding to climate change requires not only efforts from individual countries but also joint actions on a global scale for both mitigation and adaptation. This project will explore the impacts of climate change on transboundary flows to quantify the required environmental flows for healthy ecosystems, hydropower exports, and irrigated agriculture for the Kabul river basin. The Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration (IHA) method considering Range of Variability Analysis (RVA) will be used to estimate environmental flow requirements (EFR). Since maintaining natural flow variability is crucial in preserving native riverine biota and river ecosystem integrity, the RVA results will be used as a key reference for evaluating EFR.Maintaining environmental flows of a river means reducing the water demand of one or more sectors to allocate for other ecological requirements, including the biota. Keeping this in perspective, the reservoir simulation technique will be applied to operate the reservoir for hydropower purposes by using HEC-ReSim, a public domain model for reservoir system simulation developed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Finally, alternative mitigation measures will be suggested to reduce the impacts of allocating environmental flows on irrigation and hydroelectric demands. A dry year conservation zone will be developed to reduce irrigation shortages caused by environmental flow consideration. Additionally, this study will demonstrate how sustainable water sharing agreement can be achieved by linking transboundary flows to hydropower exports, irrigated agriculture, and environmental flow demands.

This project relates to USAID’s aimed at focusing investments and identifying priorities within the wider role that water and watershed management play in the fields of energy, conflict, climate change, education, biodiversity, ecosystems, and economic growth. This strategy specifically endorses the principles and proven approaches of integrated water resources management and encourages the use of all appropriate technologies and tools in achieving those objectives. Besides its scientific objectives with regard to water resource management, this PEER project is also designed to help strengthen the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan by reducing the potential for conflict between the two countries on water treaties or resource sharing. Both countries can use and share the water meeting hydropower and irrigated agriculture needs, as well as environmental flow demands. 

Summary of Recent Activities

Over the past six months, the team completed its projection of changes in annual temperature and precipitation in Kabul river Basin between three time slices: 2011- 2040 (centered on 2025), 2036-2065 (centered on 2050) and 2061-2090 (centered on 2075). In addition, the PI participated in a seminar on water management in Central Asia and the Caucasus for agriculture, industrial, and urban applications. The seminar arranged by the ISTC Science Advisory Committee (SAC) members brought together more than 50 participants from the Central Asia and Caucasus regions including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan, with specialists from the US, EU and Japan, to discuss and present the regional water management problems faced in their countries, as well as to seek new networks of like-minded scientists and discuss new ideas to resolve issues of water management in general.

The research team also drafted an article as a proposed contribution to the Special Issue of the Journal of Hydrology entitled “Water Diplomacy: Bridging the Science, Policy and Practice.” Their abstract “Water Conflict Management and Cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan” was selected to progress to full manuscript from more than 65 abstract contributions of very high quality .The main objective of this research focus is on peace processes, incentives, and third party involvement in peace negotiation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “Negotiation and Third Party Involvement (2016)” focuses primarily on the effectiveness of aid conditionality and other external tools that third parties – from states and regional organizations to NGOs – bring to the table in peace negotiations. The research team has also actively participated in the World Bank capacity building program for transboundary water management between January 2016 and June 2017. The PI also recently participated in the 2017 summer school on “Methods and Tools for the Assessment and Monitoring of Central Asian Water and Land Resources,” organized by the German-Kazakh University, Nazarbayev University, and the Regional Research Network “Central Asian Waters (CAWa).” The two-week summer school combined theoretical lectures and practical exercises with discussion sessions on the implementation of new methods and tools in managing water and land resources in Central Asia. The program included an in-depth introduction to geographical information systems (GIS), an overview on remote sensing applications for land and water resources monitoring, an introduction to climatological data analysis, and an introduction to glaciology.

In the upcoming months, the PI plans to submit a paper for a Special Issue of E-Journal “Central Asian Journal of Water Research” entitled “Benefit-Sharing Framework in Transboundary River Basins: The Case of the Eastern Kabul River Basin-Afghanistan.” Mrs. SadeqiNezhad will also continue to train undergraduate students from local universities and institutions on using the MAGICC-SCENGEN software.

4-257 Qargha Dam Village4-257 Research Presentation
One of the villages built along the Qargha Dam and ReservoirThe project team presents their research to the Ministry of Energy and Water in March 2017.

Back to PEER Cycle 4 Grant Recipients