During international week, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar on water security on the Kabul River Basin. The Kabul River Basin is a body of water that emerges in the mountains of Afghanistan and empties into Pakistan. It’s evidently, a large body of water shared by both countries. This body of water is relied on as a water source for millions of Afghanistan and Pakistan people. However, due to factors like climate change, insufficient use of water, increasing populations, and outdated irrigation systems, water scarcity is threatening the livelihood of millions and creating political blame and water related conflicts. The speaker of seminar, Sher Jan Ahmadzai, explained that he believed the situation in this region can only be alleviated by bilateral cooperation between states, the development of trust and objectivity, and the sharing of information and data. One thing is certain, as it stands now the water security crisis on the Kabul River Basin cannot be avoided in the future.
The issue of water security is prominent in parts of Africa and the Middle East as lack of development, social structure, and increasing population densities play a large role in the depletion of water. Although I don’t know a lot about water security in Afganistan and Pakistan, I found this topic relatively interesting. Like mentioned in the seminar, Pakistan and Afghanistan already have a long-standing history of social and political strife as the two nations stemmed from the same revolutionary period. On top of that, in more recent decades, the rise of nationalist rebels and signs of terrorism has caused relations to deteriorate. Relating to international law and communication, it’ll be extremely difficult for Pakistan and Afghanistan to cooperate with one another to regulate water usage. In this region, water conflict seems to be inevitable. This leads me to my first questions. Given the urgency of the situation, would an international organization like the United Nations be able to help Pakistan and Afghanistan reach an agreement with one another? In our readings, this week we’re learning about international organizations and international law. I believe as water scarcity continues to grow in these areas and relationships start to deteriorate between the countries facing these issues, that conflicts caused by water scarcity will eventually become larger international conflicts. Moreover, more developed countries are likely to be involved as highly developed countries are linked to climate change. In this case, climate change has caused not only the quick evaporation of the water within the basin, but also the melting of the glaciers that are the source of river.
My second question for this seminar is that as populations are pushed out of the Kabul River Basin in Afghanistan and Pakistan, how will social and environmental inequality begin to shape their lives? As millions begin to push out of these regions, they will most likely try to find new lives in already overpopulated cities and towns in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This will most likely cause flairs of social inequality to increase as the rich will try to starve out resources for themselves and their families. Refugees will most likely be subject to some form of social inequality as their livelihoods will change.
Overall, issues with water scarcity like the Kabul River Basin will become more prominent in years to come as these issues affect more than just the rural populations near the rivers/bodies of water. Therefore, like Sher Jan Ahmadzai mentioned, it’s extremely important for these areas to develop trust and cooperation with one another to ensure a better future for the millions affected. However, only time will tell if these areas are willing to negotiate with one another for the greater good of their countries.