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For Applicants | Focus AreasAfghanistan/ Urban WASH and Transboundary Water

Applicant Resources

PDF version of RFA (Request for Applications)
Eligible Countries:


Additional Criteria for Applicants:

Please see Section V of the Solicitation for General Eligibility requirements. For this focus area, applicants must be based at or have an affiliation with an institution of higher education (university). 

All projects that interact with human subjects will be required to go through a protocol review coordinated by the National Academies, and obtain and maintain a Federal Wide Assurance of their institution’s Internal Review Board. This process typically takes three months from the announcement of the PEER award. The time needed to obtain IRB compliance and successfully implement the PEER Project should be calculated in the budget and timeline of activities.


Water is critical to peace, reconciliation, and stability in Afghanistan, one of the most water-stressed countries in the world.1 In a 2018 national survey of the Afghan people the Asia Foundation found that access to drinking water is the most commonly cited local problem.2 Access to water and sanitation will continue to be a high priority across the region for years to come. Improving access to water, sanitation, and hygiene can be a stabilizing force in Afghanistan by creating a foundation for health and prosperity. Research and innovation will help the Afghan government achieve its pledges made in the national Citizen’s Charter that includes universal access to water and sanitation. USAID works to improve access to urban and rural water and sanitation through several mechanisms and agreements with international and local partners in the Afghan government, NGOs, the private sector, and with academia.

In alignment with the strategic goals of USAID/Afghanistan and the USAID Water and Development Implementation Plan (WDIP), the PEER program in Afghanistan shall align with the following guiding objectives:
  1. Support research projects that reduce Afghanistan’s vulnerability to water-related risks and stresses (WDIP IR 4.3), and;
  2. Help achieve sustainable availability, quality, and environmental resilience of drinking water supply sources (WDIP Program Objective 5).
Proposed research projects should aim to achieve the above guiding objectives through one of the following topic areas:

Topic Area 1: Potable Water Supply (Increased Access to Safe Drinking Water)
  • Enhancing understanding of, and developing solutions to ground-water management options and regulations, or strengthening methods to monitor and optimize extraction rates in urban areas such as Kabul. 
  • Develop a robust evidence-based analysis of the factors that determine access, affordability, sustainability, and quality of urban water, and proposing or improving solutions related to mitigating these factors, including through national and local utilities and service providers.
  • What incentive structures exist to motivate the performance of utilities and to expand access to unserved or underserved areas? What are the costs and associated benefits of different approaches to increase revenue collection by utilities? What factors and models improve routine water quality monitoring and water safety in resource-poor environments?
Topic Area 2: Water Resources Management (Improved management of water resources)
  • Investigate potential transboundary water sharing arrangements between Afghanistan and neighboring countries to find optimal solutions for Afghan policy makers, with consideration for future precipitation scenarios and climatic conditions that may reduce or alter the availability of water resources.
  • Enhancing the collection of biophysical data, including climate information, to better understand, measure, and monitor changes in water resources from different land use practices and management approaches, including establishing systems for long-term monitoring of transboundary rivers.
Proposed projects must have an explicit focus on water resources, with proposed recommendations and anticipated outcomes that positively impact natural resources management and availability of safe WASH. USAID/Afghanistan is particularly interested in supporting research projects that involve collaborations with a wide range of stakeholders including private sector partners and civil society organizations, as well as projects that have the potential to inform government policy at the national and/or local level. Research projects from all districts, provinces, and regions in Afghanistan will be considered, but applicants must demonstrate the capacity to safely conduct research, to include data collection, in remote areas or areas under increased security threat if fieldwork is required.

Duration of Project:

Projects should be designed to be implemented in one to two years with budgets of $40,000 to $80,000 (USD) per year for one institution (single institution award) and $100,000 (USD) per year for awards involving support for more than one institution (multiple institution awards). Proposals received for projects greater than two years in length will not be considered for funding. Women are strongly encouraged to apply.
1World Resources Institute., Accessed August 21, 2019.
2The Asia Foundation, A Survey of the Afghan People, 2018,