Countries that suffer water shortages : Asia
  • Afghanistan

Only 40 per cent of the Afghan population has access to safe water, and only 37 percent use health services. This emergency situation reflects serious health consequences, especially for children.
While some parts of the country are devoid of water, most people have no access to drinking water due to a lack of infrastructure and poor management, according to a report by the Centre for Policy and Human Development, University of Kabul, (information picked up by Fides Agency).


"In the three decades of war that have shaken the country, infrastructure for water supply has been abandoned or destroyed, and at the same time the institutions responsible for the distribution and management services have collapsed," reads the report "Afghanistan Human Development report 2011.
""About 73 percent of the population depends on improvised and inadequate facilities for water supply, while water sources are increasingly polluted and exploited in places like Kabul."


The problem of drought has increased immensely due to lack of water collection tanks and the backwardness of the country's irrigation systems. A study by the Afghan Ministry for Water and Energy estimated that 70% of available water is lost through evaporation or leakage while it flows through decade old crumbled channels.


Afghan communities have sought to overcome the lack of water by drawing it from underground aquifers. The Ministry of Water and Energy estimates that already 50% of groundwater has been exhausted.


The water, that necessary resource, creator of life, has become an object of desire in a country where 60% of the water that is used for human consumption is not drinkable.


One in four children die due to problems related to water pollution.


According to the annual report submitted by the organization Human Development in Afghanistan, three out of every four Afghans (16.8 million men, women and children) are unable to access safe drinking water. Afghanistan is the third country in the world with the highest rate of infant mortality among children under five, with 161 deaths per 1,000 births. 23% of these deaths are linked to contaminated water and lack of effective sanitation. Every hour, six children die because of diarrhoea. In addition, 54% of children between the ages of 6 and 48 months have an alarming stunting, and over 67% have symptoms of malnutrition.


Afghanistan is ranked 155 of 169 in the ranking of world's most developed countries. And the lack of access to clean water and sanitation is the main cause of poverty.


In Kabul, five million tons of garbage are generated daily. In many cases, waste is deposited near rivers, contributing to water pollution. That same water comes into the capital and is drunk by millions of children, causing diarrhoea and even death. "Every year the number of children who die after drinking bad water increases. The future of Afghanistan is in the water, water that we waste without fear of tomorrow," said Public Akrami Aslam, Deputy Minister of Environment.


"60% of the water that is used for human consumption is not drinkable. We have detected large amounts of arsenic in the water, something that is very dangerous and that no one is paying attention to. The future is terrible," confirms Nain Egrar Mohammad, professor at the University of Kabul. "If we do not protect the environment and our water sources, within a decade it will be impossible to continue living in Kabul," says Soray Parlika, an environmental activist.


Only 27% of the population has access to improved water sources, the lowest proportion of the world, while 95% of the population lacks access to improved sanitation. It is an insult to human dignity. "In our village there are no toilets. People dig a hole in the ground to use as a toilet."


The future of this Central Asian country is uncertain. It is estimated that in 2025 the amount of available water per capita will be reduced by approximately 36 per cent when compared to 2004.



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