Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Transboundary Water Institutions in Developing Countries : A Case Study in Afghanistan

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  • This study addresses the questions: 1) What kind of transboundary water management institution is needed for Afghanistan; and 2) what expertise is required for the institution and which stakeholders should be involved? The establishment of a transboundary water resources management institution/unit is an essential step for Afghanistan in order to tackle the transboundary waters issue with its co-riparian states. The research also indicated the primary challenges and obstacles (ranging from political matters to technical issues) that a developing country like Afghanistan should anticipate while creating a transboundary waters institution. This study also focused on the perceived risks of cooperation over transboundary water resources from the Afghan standpoint. Furthermore, it reviewed the experience of cooperation between Afghanistan and Iran over the Helmand waters negotiation in 1973. To address the aforementioned questions, I Interviewed transboundary water experts of Afghanistan, applied the risk and opportunities to cooperation framework, used the available literature and secondary data on the topic, and used the situation mapping tool for the Helmand Basin case. At present, lack of technical knowledge, data gaps, weak bargaining and negotiation skills relative to co-riparian states, lack of public support to transboundary waters negotiations – due to lack of awareness of the topic - doubts on faithfulness of co-riparian states on delivering benefits, and the existence of various stakeholders of transboundary waters in the Afghan government are the main concerns. On whether Afghanistan should cooperate or not, the study found that none of the interviewees opposed transboundary water negotiations. However, there were two camps regarding the timing of dialogues with co-riparians. The first group of participants was in favor of dialogue initiation with co-riparian states for now, and the eventual negotiation of water treaties or agreements in the future. The second group opposes current negotiations - this camp wants Afghanistan’s government to start preparing and enhancing its technical knowledge and capacity, bargaining skills, and institutional arrangements for future negotiations. Study results showed existing political will toward transboundary water cooperation and the availability of abundant funding from the donor agencies, as well as from the government of Afghanistan to transboundary waters. Recommendations were made for the design and structure of a transboundary water resources management unit, believed to be the first of its kind in the world. In addition, this study identified the perceived risks to cooperation, and, based on those identified risks, offered risk reduction strategies as well.
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