A Thirsty World Australia vs Afghanistan

Water is a limited resource and must be managed for both immediate needs and long-term economic and environmental sustainability. Australia’s management of its water sources compared with other countries around the world is of a very high standard, considering more than one billion people globally still do not have access to safe drinking water. Australias careful management of water and ecosystems is the reason for the 100% of it’s population having access to clean drinking water. A lot of time and money has been spent by individuals, groups and governments to ensure Australia’s quality of water resources are high by investing in water utilities, infrastructure and equipment.

In Australia, access to drinking water is not something regarded as a major issue and is a necessity that is easily taken for granted. On the contrary, in Afghanistan, sanitation and access to safe water is a major issue, being ranked the worse country in the world in regards to water access. Decades of war in Afghanistan has lead to the decimation of the heath and wealth of the country, creating serious poverty. In the country with a population of 29 million, only 27% has access to improved water sources and it goes down to 20% in rural areas, the lowest percentage in the world, where majority of the population lives. In the capital of Kabul, home to 6 million people, 80% of people lack access to safe drinking water and 95% lack access to improved sanitation facilities. One of the casualties of war has been the infrastructure and pipes that supplies Afghanistans with a clean water source. Other factors like geographical constrains, climate change and the lack of education on clean water and sanitation also adds to the problem.

Afghanistans three largest river basins in Afghanistan are the Indus, Amu Darya and Helmand, the Amu Darya holding more than 55% of Afghanistan’s water resources. 80% of Afghanistans population is engaged in agriculture and livestock raising which uses almost 99 percent of water resources.

Afghanistans main access to water is through the flow of water from its mountain rivers and have build some reservoirs to collect the natural flow of snow runoff, but not enough to supply the whole population. Because of the lack of reservoirs, canals and infrastructure, today only 30-35% of the water coming out of the mountains stay in Afghanistan but continues through central Asia, Pakistan and Iran, Afghanistans neighbouring countries. Unfortunately there will be little change of this if the fighting continues in that middle eastern area. An estimated $11 billion is needed to resolve this water poverty across the nation, but governments aren’t willing to do this because there is a fear workers and/or any projects will be attacked.

US Army Officers providing relief to war effected Afghanistan areas

Individuals are able to help the Afghanistan water crisis through donations to organisations who come together and provide relief for the citizens. Other donations can be used to help build better reservoirs and pumps to get the water from the source to peoples homes. UNICEF’s has created a water, sanitation and hygiene program called WASH which provides support services with the aim of increasing access to clean water, household sanitation and raising awareness within communities on the importance of good hygiene. It includes the building and rehabilitation wells and construction of mini piped water systems in villages. They also work with partners in schools to bring water, sanitation facilities and hygiene education to nearly 500 schools in Afghanistan each year.

Unlike Afghanistan, Australia has 100% access to high quality drinking water as our water resources are looked after by individuals, groups and governments very well. Government spending is used to build infrastructure and water utilities to clean and pump the water to households all over Australia. As well as many dams and reservoirs across Australia, water can also be provided from desalination plants that Australia invested in. Different states rely on the desalination plants more depending on their access to other dams. Sydney doesn't need to heavily rely on their plant as Warragamba Dam supplies their water.

Warragamba Dam, located approximately 65 kilometres west of Sydney NSW, just below the Blue Mountains, is the primary reservoir for water supply for the city of Sydney. It supplies water to more than 3.7 million people living in Sydney, and 80% of all water resources. Australian groups, individuals and governments all play important roles into managing water sources to ensure Australians have access to the highest quality water. Livestock and grazing, fertilisers and urbanisation are issues polluting water sources in Australia and certain management strategies have been put in place to ensue the water stays clean, including community education, monitoring-water testing, financial assistance to farmers as well as general planning and regulations. The government play a huge role in the management of Australias water sources by creating different laws to reduce the amount of toxins going into the water sources. They have created legislations to prevent livestock from coming within 10 metres of water sources and provide grants and funding to farmers who are able to build fences to control their animals. Individuals and farmers living in the area take on a large responsibility in keeping the local environment and waterways healthy. The forest land surrounding Warragamba catchment is managed through hazard reduction burning to prevent fires destroying the land and the ashes polluting the water. Conservationists put a lot of effort in testing the water levels and planning ways to keep the water quality stable.

The reduction and loss of Afghanistan's glaciers, drought, war related damage to the irrigation systems it does have, poor management, waste, pollution, and the fact that over 80% of Afghans are engaged in agriculture and livestock-raising, makes the country extremely susceptible to water shortages. Australians are so fortunate to live in a safe environment where access to clean drinking water is the simple act of opening a tap, and government and individuals spend the appropriate money and time to care for the environment to ensure our water resources to be of a maximum world standard level.


Gadgil, D. (2012). Afghanistan’s Water Crisis. [online] HydrateLife. Available at: https://www.hydratelife.org/afghanistans-water-crisis/ [Accessed 21 Mar. 2017].

Qazi, A. (2008). Afghanistan Online: Environment (Afghanistan's Water Resources and Pollution). [online] Afghan-web.com. Available at: http://www.afghan-web.com/environment/water.html [Accessed 18 Mar. 2017].

Unicef.org. (2016). UNICEF Afghanistan - WASH - Water and environmental sanitation. [online] Available at: https://www.unicef.org/afghanistan/wes.html [Accessed 21 Mar. 2017].

Abs.gov.au. (2016). 4613.0 - Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends, 2006. [online] Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/409B6070AE681E76CA257234002142BF?opendocument [Accessed 19 Mar. 2017].

Water.nsw.gov.au. (2016). Water quality - NSW Office of Water. [online] Available at: http://www.water.nsw.gov.au/water-management/water-quality [Accessed 19 Mar. 2017].

CSIRO. (2016). Assessing Australia's water resources. [online] Available at: https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/LWF/Areas/Water-resources/Assessing-water-resources [Accessed 20 Mar. 2017].

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.