Improving access to drinking water and sanitation

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 Economy
Overall term: 2008 to 2020

A modern and sustainable water supply system is constructed.


Being able to access a regular supply of high-quality drinking water is an unattainable dream for most Afghans. Only one in ten people in Kabul and one in five in the provincial capitals are connected to the drinking water supply system, which is still largely in a state of disrepair. In rural areas, people have to rely on wells, rivers and streams or water tankers 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 leakage.

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 conservation goals have not yet been achieved. However, the utilities have been decentralised and granted autonomy to some extent.


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.

Available water resources are often not used properly.


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

In cooperation with the ministries responsible for water policy, particularly the Ministry of Energy and Water, the project is developing guidelines for the use of water resources and supporting the Ministry in putting them into practice.

Since 2008, the project has been providing technical and commercial advice and training for 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 for the relevant employees.

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

The consulting firms GOPA Infra and INTEGRATION support the implementation of the project.

More households shall be connected to the water supply system.


Between 2011 and 2017, around 3,000 employees from all institutions in the water sector attended management training courses as well as practical training and capacity development courses. As a result, they are now better able to fulfil their tasks.

In the area of water resource management, the first permanent groundwater monitoring systems have been introduced, the first water management framework plans have been drafted and specific measures for groundwater protection – including the closure of illegal rubbish dumps near public drinking water wells – have been implemented.

In the project towns and cities, the number of households connected to the mains water supply has risen significantly. Between December 2013 and May 2018, the number of connected households increased from 43,300 to 57,800 in Kabul, from 12,000 to 17,300 in Mazar-e Sharif and from around 900 to 2,500 in Taloqan. 

In recent years, the key performance indicators that contribute to better operating cost recovery have improved at all water utilities supported by the project. In addition to the number of households connected to the mains water supply, these include the number of water meters installed, the number of water bills issued and the proportion of bills paid.

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