Access to drinking water

Project description

Title: Programme to improve the water supply
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Afghanistan
Lead executing agency: Afghan Ministry of Urban Development Affairs; Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water; Afghan Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Corporation
Overall term: 2008 to 2018

Afghanistan. Children filling their water containers from a public water point in Kart-e-Naw, Kabul. © GIZ


Being able to access a regular supply of high-quality drinking water remains an unattainable dream for many Afghans. Only one in ten residents in the capital Kabul and one in five in the provincial capitals are connected to the drinking water supply system, which is in a poor state of repair. In rural areas, people have to rely on wells, rivers and streams or water tanks for their drinking water. None of the water pipelines are new, and the old ones require maintenance as they lose up to 40 per cent of the water through leaks.

The country often fails to use its available water resources properly, and there are currently no measures in place to conserve them. Although Afghanistan has begun to restructure its water sector, the planned decentralisation, autonomy for the utilities and resource protection have not yet been achieved.


Sustainable water and sanitation systems have been developed in the towns and cities, and the frameworks needed to support them are in place. The Afghan institutions are operating the water infrastructure independently, and continuing to develop it.


KfW Development Bank coordinated the development of the water infrastructure, and the project is now working with the Afghan institutions on operating and expanding the water and sanitation systems on a needs-driven basis.

In cooperation with the project, the ministries responsible for water policy, in particular the Ministry of Energy and Water, are making fundamental decisions on water policy. The Ministry is then putting them into practice, with support from the project.

Since 2008, the project has been providing technical and commercial advice and training to employees of the Afghan Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Corporation.

To enable the Afghan Ministry of Urban Development Affairs to plan and set up a functioning urban sanitation system, the project provides training on both technical and organisational issues to the relevant employees.

In conjunction with the project, the National Environmental Protection Agency is developing a quality management system for the urban drinking water supply.

The consulting firm GOPA Infra supports the implementation of the project.


Between 2011 und 2013, around 2,000 employees from all the institutions in the water sector attended management training courses. As a result, they are now better able to fulfil their tasks.

Between the start of 2007 and the end of 2013, the number of households connected to the water supply in Kunduz rose from 370 to 7,700. With an average of eight to ten family members per household, this represents around 75 per cent of Kunduz’s population. In Kabul, the number of connected households rose from 33,776 (2010) to 43,300 (2013).

Afghanistan. Collecting water from a stream in Faizabad, transported by donkey. © GIZ

By the end of 2013, 130,000 people living in the satellite towns around Herat had been connected to the mains water supply. The local water utility laid 45,300 connections in Herat and the surrounding area, all equipped with water meters. As a result, it is now serving nearly everyone in Herat, as well as 30 per cent of the population in the satellite towns. Since 2008, it has been generating profits, and is now able to finance the maintenance of its infrastructure independently.

In July 2012, the government introduced a new water tariff, which has significantly increased the income of the water utilities. In Kabul, for example, the proportion of ‘paid for’ water increased from 37 per cent to 54 per cent. In Herat, it grew from 58 per cent to 84 per cent, and in Kunduz from 52 per cent to 59 per cent. With project support, the municipal authorities in Herat, Kunduz and Mazar-e Sharif have established six new wastewater plants, and are now operating them.