The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $348.78 million grant to help in the development of water resources in Kandahar province through the expansion of Dahla Dam, the country’s second largest dam.
The project will help improve Afghanistan’s agricultural productivity, water resources management, energy generation, and growth outlook.
ADB Principal Natural Resources and Agriculture Specialist for Central and West Asia, Mr. Hans Woldring said, “Afghanistan has a water availability and management issue, with frequent and worsening droughts affecting the country’s agriculture outputs, people’s living standards, and economic productivity. Addressing the country’s water resources issue will not only improve agricultural production in Afghanistan, particularly in high-value crops, but also provide security, both in water and energy, improving the country’s economic prospects.”
The project will also increase reliable irrigation water supply by upgrading canals and structures, as well as introducing monitoring and control systems that will allow water on demand services in the province. Climate-smart irrigation and agricultural technologies and practices will be adopted to improve production and sustainability. Female farmers, in particular, will be empowered through increased training opportunities, scholarships, technology transfer, and advisory services.
Increased storage capacity of the dam will provide the possibility of hydropower generation, which will be undertaken by the private sector, and additional urban and industrial water supply to Kandahar City and its surroundings, with the help of a $230 million grant from the World Bank.
Key areas of ADB’s assistance to the sector include irrigation and water resources, agriculture market infrastructure, value chain development, integrated water resources management, institutional strengthening and reforms, and increased participation of women in agriculture.
Since 1966, ADB has invested about $545 million in water resources in Afghanistan, mainly for irrigation. ADB operations have so far resulted in 350,000 hectares (ha) of improved irrigated land, with more than 250,000 ha under development.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.