22 Pages

Despite the best intentions? Experiences with water resource management in northern Afghanistan

WithJennifer McCarthy, Daanish Mustafa

The development and management of water resources has been part of the nation building projects of various Afghan regimes dating back to the beginning of twentieth century. Since 2001, the Afghan government has tried to enhance its legitimacy and reduce the influence of the insurgency by improving the living conditions of ordinary Afghans, but these efforts have not met expectations when it comes to water services for domestic use and irrigation, possibly because many of the water use and development initiatives have been shaped by national and international stakeholders without the full participation of the intended beneficiaries. At the national level, the key strategic frameworks informing Afghan development in the water sector and beyond, most notably the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), are replete with references to participation, bottom-up development, and social equity (Farhadi 2008). At the local level, however, implementation of these concepts has proved problematic, and fulfillment of the basic need for water in rural areas has been difficult to achieve.