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Capturing Opportunities and Managing Challenges: Cooperating in Kabul River Basin for Afghanistan-Pakistan Water Relations

Pakistan is a water-stressed country. It depends heavily on its neighbors for most of its surface water. The transboundary Kabul River brings in 15.6 million acre feet (MAF) of water annually into Pakistan from Afghanistan, making it our second largest river basin. The shared Kabul River Basin also contributes approximately 12 MAF of water into the Indus River Basin, the first largest surface water source of the country, shared with India. An estimated 9 million people are dependent on the Kabul River Basin, reflecting the economic and social significance of this water source. Being one of the world’s most water intensive economies with an exponentially growing population, grouped with the devastation of climate change racking both the countries, Pakistan’s water security is now more in question than ever before. However, despite this tenuous position, our relations with majority of our water neighbors remain estranged.

Recognizing the threat to Pakistan’s water security from geopolitical conflicts with its co-riparian countries, LEAD Pakistan has integrated transboundary water management into the core of its Water Program. The sharing of transboundary water requires strategic management for which coherent frameworks for benefit sharing need to be constructed. Furthermore, impacts of climate change, which have amplified the vulnerability of Pakistan and its neighbors effecting glacial/snow melt rates, precipitation patterns, intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, and river volumes, need to be integrated into the discourse surrounding management of our shared basins. LEAD has through the years strived to make informed contribution to this conversation, by strengthening scientific evidence and stimulating national and regional level policy dialogues on our transboundary waters.

Building on this, we at LEAD undertook two major initiatives to create pathways for effective management of our shared basins, particularly the Kabul River Basin.

The LEADING Perspectives series on Managing Shared Basins, initiated in August 2017, revolves around Pakistan’s multi-dimensional water challenge and incorporates social, economic and environmental aspects to the national water discourse, policies, programmes and initiatives. Under this initiative, 32 talks have been held to date by eminent speakers from diverse spheres – public and private, industry and agriculture, academia and practitioners, international development institutions and local non-governmental organizations – covering the transversal issues surrounding Pakistan’s transboundary waters including regional water diplomacy, implications of climate change on water flows, and the role of private sector investments in efficient management of these shared resources. 

Further narrowing focus towards the transboundary Kabul River Basin, LEAD undertook the project titled ‘Understanding our Joint Water-Climate Change Challenge and Exploring Policy Options for Cooperation on the Afghan-Pak Transboundary Kabul River Basin’ as a part of USAID’s development scheme termed PEER - Participation for Enhanced Engagement in Research. Under this initiative, LEAD conducted scientific research on the impacts of climate change on the Kabul River basin, and models for benefit sharing. Regional level policy dialogues were held to create networks and synergies between key stakeholders of both the countries, and to forge pathways towards an integrated basin wide approach.

In view of this, the National Consultation on “Capturing Opportunities and Managing Challenges: Cooperating in the Kabul River Basin for Afghanistan-Pakistan Water Relations” aims to synthesize the learnings accumulated from these significant initiatives on transboundary water management especially for the Kabul River Basin, receive cross sectorial perspectives for strengthening water diplomacy, and to forge a way forward to enhancing water security and promoting regional integration.  

Media Coverage

Pakistan, Afghanistan asked to build trust over use of Kabul River - Dawn

Lose the win-lose mentality - Business Recorder

Event Proceedings

Picture Gallery

VIDEO: Inaugural Session

VIDEO: Session One, Managing Shared River Basins – Synthesizing Learnings and Way Forward

VIDEO: Session Two, Understanding the Water – Climate Change Challenge and Policy Options on the Afghan-Pak Transboundary Kabul River

VIDEO: Concluding Observations by  Mr. Nisar A. Memon, Former Senator and Founder of Water Environment Forum and Mr. Khalid Mohtadullah, Senior Advisor Water Program of LEAD Pakistan


Impact of the 21st Century Climate Change on Surface Water Availability of the Transboundary Kabul River Basin by Dr. Zia ur Rahman

Leading Perspectives Talk Series by Meera Omar

Managing Shared Basins by Fazilda Nabeel - Presented by Tayeba Batool 

Regional Consultations for Effective Policy Options for Management of the Kabul River Basin by Dr. Hassan Abbas

Understanding our Joint Water-Climate Change Challenge & Exploring Policy Options for Cooperation on the Afghan-Pak Transboundary Kabul River Basin by Hina Lotia

Video Interviews





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Other Details

Start Date:02/26/2019
End Date:02/26/2019
Last Date for Registration:02/25/2019
Venue:Islamabad (Invitation Only)