The unique hydrology of the Kabul River Basin, with both Afghanistan and Pakistan being simultaneously upstream and downstream neighbors, raises the potential for increased conflict and mistrust between the two countries if development of the basin is performed unilaterally. The basin is highly vulnerable and adaptation requires authentic climate and hydrological data. However, majority of the relevant institutions in both Afghanistan and Pakistan do not have access to reliable and robust data about the river basin and there is lack of technical capacity to address the environmental and political challenges of the basin.
Owing to its past and current experience in the understanding of the water resource management of Kabul River Basin, the Hollings Center supported a small grant under its Afghanistan-Pakistan Partnership program to build and support the capacity of the hydrological engineers of both countries in developing and data sets and vulnerability assessments for better water resource management.
The proposed project included a two-day workshop on hydro-climatic modelling techniques for participants of the two riparian countries of the Kabul River Basin. The workshop was organized in Dubai from 15-16 Oct 2019. It was organized with the aim to achieve the following outcomes:
- Strengthened linkages among cross border stakeholders of Kabul River Basin to build trust and confidence for cooperative water resource management.
- Capacity building and sensitization of local stakeholders for an optimized water resources management framework for Kabul River Basin.
It was an interactive workshop that provided an opportunity to have a research enabled discussion on Kabul River Basin. The joint training opportunity helped look at issues from non-political perspective and also appreciate the challenges that are faced by researchers from both sides. Some recommendations which were made during the two day interactive workshop included:
- Those present should take multiple opportunities to continue to meet, collaborate, and develop further research.
- Various models are being used to undertake research. Results from research should be disseminated to a wider audience to look at results and the limitations that exist.
- The network and research can be expanded to the river basins in Central Asia, which share similar challenges.
- There is a need to expand the group and include other important stakeholders in the discussion and discourse. Policy makers, media, private sector and CSOs should be included and the research to policy link needs to be developed and strengthened.
- Joint workshops should expand to include other constituencies and the discussion should go a step forward to sharing research results with policy makers and roundtables should be organized to devise demand driver research agenda, joint actionable frameworks, analytical tools and implementation strategies.
- Confidence building for peace building: Engaging young scientists from both sides to facilitate cooperation on water and WEF nexus issues.
- Encourage and support joint or coordinated researches to be done by both sides and presented for discussion in similar forums. Also, facilitate research and evidence-based blogs, op-ed pieces, TV programs as well as joint research papers.