Joint management of water proposed with Afghanistan

Posted on June 14, 2011. Filed under: Hydal |

ISLAMABAD, June 13: The World Bank has offered finances and services as an ‘honest broker’ to help Pakistan and Afghanistan in joint water management under a bilateral treaty on the pattern of Pak-India Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

Sources told Dawn on Monday that the lending agency that had brokered Pak-India treaty and later helped Pakistan in development of Mangla and Tarbela dams has already done necessary work, including arrangement of about $12 million from five other lenders to finance at least four technical studies and the negotiation process.

“It is in the bank’s financial clout and its worldwide experience that provides the necessary incentives for reaching a trans-boundary agreement and paving the way for its successful implementation,” said a World Bank communication seeking support from the two neighbours. “As the most suitable institution for such an undertaking, the bank would sponsor and promote this crucial dialogue and cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan for economic development and security in the region,” it added.

The World Bank has proposed putting in place a mechanism for dispute resolution and joint management of water resources by the two countries with the name of Kabul River Basin (KRB) Management Commission on the pattern of Pakistan-India Permanent Indus Commission.

The World Bank’s eager ness to assist the two countries in shared and integrated management of water resources is seen here as a key development because it enjoyed three essential elements for its successful execution. These are political neutrality, international experience and technical expertise for development and implementation of such arrangements and financial resources to finally bring such efforts to reality on ground.The sources said the bank wanted to develop institutional capacity in both countries, particularly Afghanistan, for promotion of greater cooperation and understanding through exchange and sharing of hydro-meteorological data of the KRB between the two countries and development of a management plan using hydrological, hydraulic and economic models.

A $3.5 million component of the project would assist dialogue for greater cooperation on utilisation of water and development of a joint system for data collection, verification, analysis, storage and dissemination through geographic information system (GIS) and digital elevation model (DEM).

Another $2.5 million component aims at development of projects and programmes for multi-sector options on a long-term scenario, combined with economic modelling, climate impact, drought mitigation and other aspects of energy, agriculture and tourism.

Another Rs3 million study would design a permanent KRB management commission jointly managed at the highest level by Afghan and Pakistani specialists support ed by sub-basin councils. The entire programme has to be implemented in four years.

The sources said international non-governmental organisations like South Asia Water Initiative (SAWI), Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), MultiDonor Trust Fund (MDTF) and Climate Change Adaptation Fund have already agreed to support the World Bank move.

The bank has estimated that the average annual flow of Kabul River is about 21 billion cubic meters (BCM). Kunar River, with major contribution of 75 per cent in the Kabul flows, draws more than 60 per cent of water from the Chitral area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Islamabad has been worried over New Delhi’s increased help to Kabul for development of a number of storages on the Kabul River without addressing Pakistan’s concerns. Pakistan had hinted at diverting Chitral River before its entry into Afghanistan in the event of attempts made to deprive it of its due share.

Pakistan gets about 17 per cent water supply from the Kabul River when Indus flows decline in winter. Pakistan and Afghanistan currently share nine rivers with annual flows of about 18.3 million acres feet (MAF). Out of this, the Kabul River has water flows of 16.5 MAF, to which Chitral River, originating in Pakistan, contributes about 8.5 MAF. After entering Afghanistan, the Chitral River becomes the Kunar River, joins the Kabul River near Jalalabad and then reenters Pakistan.

Dawn.com

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