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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Determination of flood magnitude projection, causes, vulnerable areas and its solutions: A cause study of Kabul River basin

PI: Mohammad Assem Mayar (  and, Organization of Skill Development and Social Services (OSDSS)
U.S. Partner: Jonathan Nelson, U.S. Geological Survey
Project Dates: September 2017 - November 2019

Project Overview:

Floods are one of the most destructive natural disasters on the earth, and the frequency of flood events has rapidly increased worldwide. Various models for quantifying flood discharge have been developed, but they require significant data input and these data are mostly not available or accurately represented, especially in developing countries. Thus, this project will address the flood model challenge. This study contains a combination of applied and scientific research and is divided into two components. In the applied component, the research team will work to find flood magnitude trends, causes, and vulnerable locations, and propose a reasonable solution for this problem in the Kabul River Basin. The second component is focused on the scientific problem of hydrologic models. This element of the study involves the development of a novel and easy approach for flood flow computation using lumped hydrologic models. The U.S. partner, Dr. Nelson, will cooperate on the effort and may incorporate it into a model (iRIC) that he is developing with U.S. Geological Survey support.

The analyses resulting from this project should provide a good base for scientific and engineering modeling of Afghan river basins. The study will provide datasets for water-related projects and programs in Afghanistan, particularly those related to transboundary water resource management. Other study results will include engineering information regarding the quantity of Afghan water resources for use in policy formulation and decision making.

This work supports USAID goals of building capacity in research and its integration with policy in Afghanistan. This study will be one of the first efforts in hydrologic and hydraulic engineering that is led by Afghan scientists in an academic environment. Students from public and private Afghan universities will actively participate, thereby expanding their scientific and engineering knowledge and modeling skills. During project implementation, several training courses, workshops, and conferences will be conducted for Afghan university students, especially for Kabul Polytechnic University students in the Master's program on Water Resource and Environmental Engineering, as well as Afghan government water sector employees, who will have the opportunity to complete internships on the project. Within this internship program, participants will be exposed to basic skills required for current research, research methodology, new challenges in the water sector, and techniques for writing proposals and identifying funding sources. Recommendations will also be shared with public and private university authorities for curricula development purposes.

Summary of Project Results:

5-033 Laghman Seminar
Participants in the winter 2017 Laghman Workshop (Photo courtesy of Dr. Mayar).
During the project implementation period, the team successfully achieved most of the set goals. The project activities started with data collection, sorting and organizing in appropriate formats. This consisted of hydrologic data, satellite images, and raw GIS data from national and international organizations. Next, data quality control was implemented to filter irrelevant recording data and statistical analyses were used find flood peak and frequency projection for the study area.

Afterward, the project team worked on data preparation for the Kabul River Basin floodplain delineation in the GIS interface. As a first result, it was identified that existing river networks are not appropriate for flood simulation and are only usable for general management purposes. Thus, the team first delineated the river center lines using high-resolution satellite images. Later, the river profiles were prepared according to 5-meter topographic information and the team conducted simulations, calibration, and post-processing of the floodplain in the study area. Planned and additional scenarios were tested to acquire a corrected version of flood vulnerable areas. The generated floodplain was calibrated using online high-resolution images and the recorded discharges. The developed high-resolution results of the river network and floodplain for the study area were then shared with the public through the Afghanistan Spatial Data Center's (ASDC) online geo-portal.

The project team, in cooperation with US-partner, also published the results. First, the high-resolution river network delineation method was presented and published in the CAWA conference in Almaty Kazakhstan. The results of statistical analyses were also drafted for a peer-review journal paper entitled “River flow analyses for flood projection in the Kabul River Basin." The paper was submitted to the Central Asia Journal of Water Research (CAJWR) and was accepted. Additionally, a second journal paper about the floodplain methodology which can be implemented in developing countries is in progress. In order to approach policymakers, the PI published the results of investigations as columns on the mainstream media websites. The articles were widely read, republished, and used in the digital reports. The PI also participated in TV and radio discussions about the floods and water management in Afghanistan.

Capacity building activities covered the targeted number of participants. In total, nine seminars and three workshops were organized, covering 598 participants. The seminars covered research methodology and introducing funding opportunities while the workshops focused on the introduction and application of new technologies for predicting natural disasters such as for floods (Global Flood Awareness System and Global Flood Monitoring System), extreme climatic events (Global Forecast System and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts systems), dust (Barcelona Dust Forecast Center) and drought (Global Drought Observatory). The workshops also covered skills development for flood simulations using HEC-SSP, GIS, and HEC-RAS software. Additionally, 14 B.Sc. students were trained for three months’ internship period.

Overall, the project was successful by achieving most of the set goals. For the future, the team plans to continue their research work and attract additional financial support from the international community to tackle the water-related problems and promote research in Afghanistan.

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