The record of surface measurements of Afghanistan’s climate and hydrology has numerous gaps, owing to the country’s historical political instability, especially since the 1970s. This research will address for the first time Afghanistan’s challenges in transforming to an integrated approach for managing its water resources. The study has two main objectives. First, the research team will work on recovering the gap of observed climate data to create a dataset combining historical climate and hydrologic data from Afghan stations and information from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. Second, to translate the meaning of these data to the country’s mountainous regions, where surface data have been sparse even during the best of times, the researchers will compare their reconstructions of surface measurements with remotely sensed data of snow cover and snow water equivalent derived by their U.S. partner covering the period from 2000 to the present. The resulting analyses will provide a base for scientific and engineering modeling on Afghanistan river basins. As there are limited studies on Afghanistan water resources conducted by international organizations, the created dataset will be used in engineering models to examine the current and future status of climatic parameters and water availability in Afghanistan. The study will provide datasets for Afghanistan water-related projects and programs, particularly in transboundary water resource management, and also engineering information regarding the quantity of Afghanistan water resource for use in decision and policy making.
The team’s objectives are to improve Afghanistan’s ability to analyze, synthesize, and present information essential for planning and decision making. In this context, assessment of seasonal snow resources relative to historical trends and extremes is the primary need in the country’s mountains, with their austere infrastructure, sparse gauging, accessibility challenges, and emerging or enduring insecurity related to water resources that include both droughts and floods. These issues require that remotely sensed data provide much of the information necessary to analyze the snow cover and predict seasonal and paroxysmal runoff. 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 in hydrologic engineering that will be led by Afghan scientists in an academic environment. Students from two Afghan universities will actively participate, and their participation will expand their scientific and engineering knowledge and engineering modeling skills. Further, the outcome of the proposed research will help policy makers in their design of new projects to manage the nation’s water.
The project continued its activities during the first quarter of 2017, by training more students at both Ibn-e-Sina University and Bamyan University in the Kabul and Bamyan provinces, respectively. The students and interns continued working closely with the project’s specialists on GIS, SWAT, and HEC-HMS models for the Kabul River basin.
The project team also visited the UNEP offices and project sites to familiarize the students with the adoption measure activities carried out by farmers and trained by international organizations. The projects also have continuation contacts with the Water Resources Department of the Ministry of Energy and Water in Bamyan to help students with workshops and site visits to practically learn hydrological measurements.
The project findings related to the Kabul River basin have published in the Global Research and Development Journal for Engineering under the title, “Ensemble GCMs climate change projections for Kabul River basin, Afghanistan under representative concentration pathways.”
The project team plans to continue its training events including workshops and field visits in the coming months. The project will continue working closely with interns day by day to teach them technical engineering skills through both learning approaches.