Training Afghanistan’s water sector professionals in integrated river basin management

   TwitCount

The Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) concept is being widely adopted because it provides a holistic approach to river basin management. IRBM takes into consideration not just the water within the river system but also the management, sustainable use, and environmental impacts of water and land resources for livelihoods, as well as disaster risk reduction and management of water-related hazards.

Recognizing the importance of IRBM, the Government of Afghanistan adopted this approach through a new water law and water sector strategy in 2011. To further this push towards efficient river basin management, ICIMOD through its Strengthening Water Resources Management in Afghanistan (SWaRMA) Initiative organized a training workshop on multiscale Integrated River Basin Management from the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) perspective for 14 participants from Afghanistan. The training, held from 28 January to 8 February 2019 in Kathmandu, Nepal successfully spotlighted the effectiveness of the IRBM approach across different basin scales in the Himalayan region. 

The training on multiscale IRBM from the HKH perspective involved 14 participants representing various institutions from Afghanistan. (Photo: Neera Shrestha Pradhan/ICIMOD)

The participants (including two women) represented institutions such as the Ministry of Water and Energy (MEW); Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL); National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA); and Kabul University (KU). In his welcome remarks, David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, emphasized on the significance of contextualizing multiscale IRBM in the HKH. Jalal Naser Faqiryar, Director General of Kabul River Basin, corroborated this point, highlighting the importance of such a management approach in the context of the Kabul River basin. 

During the opening programme, Arun Bhakta Shrestha, Regional Programme Manager – River Basins and Cryosphere, ICIMOD, shared the focus of the regional programme and its work on water resources management in the HKH. Neera Shrestha Pradhan, Programme Coordinator of SWaRMA, discussed SWaRMA’s efforts in co-creating learning opportunities and explained the workshop’s objectives.  Shahriar Wahid, Principal Researcher Consultant – Basin Management, CSIRO, briefed the participants on CSIRO’s contributions to effective basin management. Santosh Nepal, Water and Climate Specialist at ICIMOD, highlighted the overall theme of the training workshop and its relevance. This was followed by an interactive programme that solicited reflections on Afghanistan’s water resources management approach.

Group activities and discussions provided the participants with a holistic introduction to IRBM. Experts from Nepal and Afghanistan also shared their experiences during the training. (Photo: Kabi Raj Khatiwada/ICIMOD)

The training covered eight different modules, which included both conceptual perspectives and real-world examples related to IRBM. Trainers and resource persons incorporated both biophysical and social sciences related to IRBM to foster understanding of issues, impacts, and related responses. The eight modules are as follows: 1) Conceptual understanding of river basin drivers and implications for integrated river basin management; 2) Tools and approaches for understanding biophysical change; 3) Gendered vulnerability and socioeconomic drivers of change; 4) Governance, policy, and institutional framework; 5) Water diplomacy and transboundary cooperation; 6) Operational aspects of water and land management; 7) Exposure visit; and 8) Knowledge management and communication.

All modules involved presentations, group activities, and discussions within an overall integrated learning approach. Experts from Nepal and Afghanistan shared their experiences during the training, which enhanced co-learning and shed light on the relevance of IRBM for water resources management in Afghanistan. The exposure visit to the transboundary Koshi River basin allowed the participants to directly observe river basin management issues in Nepal and compare, contrast, and evaluate in reference to their own context in Afghanistan. This training workshop therefore helped the participants acquire knowledge on sustainable water resources management practices in the region.

The exposure visit to the Koshi River basin allowed the participants to directly observe river basin management issues in Nepal and understand IRBM from the HKH perspective (Photo: Aqua Birds Wildlife Camp)

The training ended with a certificate distribution programme and feedback session. The participants shared that they were able to understand the concepts of Integrated Water Resources Management and IRBM in the context of Afghanistan and learn about tools and approaches for understanding river basin drivers and impacts. They were able to acquire a better understanding of water governance and institutional frameworks, water diplomacy, regional cooperation, and socioeconomic drivers and gender and operational aspects of water resources management.