Kamal Khan Drought and Drinking Water Shortage Crisis in Nimroz

Following the evaporation of stored water in the Kamal Khan Dam, Members of Parliament and civil society activists in Nimroz have been expressing concerns over the lack of drinking water in the province for several days now, stressing that if the problem is not resolved soon, in this hot weather with temperatures rising above 50 degrees Celsius in this province, a humanitarian crisis will occur. Representatives of people of Nimroz in the House of Representatives claim that millions of US dollars have been embezzled which was intended for the transfer of fresh water to the city of Zaranj and several other districts of the province, causing serious problems for the people in the summer. They warn that in addition to Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province, and people in several districts of the province are facing severe shortages of drinking water.

Civil society activists in Nimroz also insist that people cannot afford to buy drinking water, and that the price of a drinking water tanker in the province has risen from 300 to 700 Afghanis. According to them, although millions of US dollars have been spent on resolving the problem of drinking water, the people of this province are still struggling to get fresh drinking water. Local officials in Nimroz emphasize that in order to solve this problem, the work on digging several drinking water wells in areas facing water shortages have begun. Officials from the Nimroz Disaster Management Authority say that the problem of water shortages also threaten Chakhansur and Kong districts.

The lack of drinking water in the heat with the temperature above 50 degrees Celsius in Nimroz province has caused great concern to the people and their representatives in parliament. Some representatives of the Nimroz people in the parliament and the provincial council warn that if this problem is not solved, there will be a humanitarian catastrophe and many people will die due to lack of drinking water.

In an interview with 8 Sobh newspaper, Gol Ahmad Nourzad, a representative of the people of Nimroz in the House of Representatives, expressed concerns over the tragedy that threatens people’s lives in Nimroz and called upon the local and central government to address this problem. According to him, this problem is threatening the people of Nimroz in the city of Zaranj, the capital of the province and the districts of Chakhansur and Kong. He emphasizes that the people of this province have spent a lot of money in the hopes for exploiting the Kamal Khan Dam project and hoped that the completion of this project, along with irrigation of agricultural lands, would also solve the problems of drinking water shortage in Nimroz, and yet still people are facing a serious shortage of drinking water.

According to some members of Nimroz Provincial Council, the temperature in the province reaches more than 50 degrees Celsius in summer and this problem has doubled the water shortage. Mohammad Yunus Arab, a member of the Nimroz provincial council, told 8 Sobh that more than $20 million had been spent on the water supply project in the village of Qala-e-Fath in Zaranj, but people still suffer from fresh water shortages. He insists that of the nine drinking water wells drilled in the Qala-e-Fath village project, only five have water, and he fears that the wells will dry out at temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius. The water supply project was supposed to solve the problem of drinking water in Kong and Chakhansur districts along with Zaranj city, but it won’t even suffice the city of Zaranj.

According to information provided by civil society activists in Nimroz province, the price of a 20-liter barrel of water has risen from 15 to 20 Afghanis in recent days, and the price of a salt water tanker in Zaranj has risen from 300 to 700 Afghanis, which most people cannot afford.

Mohammad Sadeq Baluch, a civil society activist in Nimroz, told 8 Sobh that the problem of water shortage in the province was serious and that people cannot get access to drinking water at such a high price. He claims that the project of transferring drinking water from Qala-e-Fath village to the residents of Zaranj city and other districts of this province has been one of the failed development projects of the government in the last 20 years owing to corruption and lack of budget.

On the other hand, the local officials of Nimroz province insist that the local administration of the province is trying to eliminate the leading problem and eliminate the shortage of drinking water in this province. In an interview with 8 Sobh newspaper, Mohammad Nabi Brahui, the deputy governor of Nimroz, emphasized that in order to solve this problem, in coordination with the central government, the work on the project of digging drinking water wells in Qala-e-Fath village has begun.

Meanwhile, Ramin Alavi, administrative director of the Nimroz Department of Disaster Management, told 8 Sobh that staff had been sent to vulnerable areas in Kong and Chakhansur districts by order of the president, and that deep wells would soon be drilled to supply drinking water to the people.

According to information received from Nimroz province, the large water supply project of Qala-e-Fath village will solve only 2% of the drinking water shortage problem of the residents of this province in the city of Zaranj. In addition to the city of Zaranja, the districts of Chaharbarjak, Kong, Chakhansur and Khashroud are also facing a serious shortage of drinking water.

The provinces of the western part of the country had fewer monsoon rains in the winter of 2020 and the spring of 2021, which is why the groundwater level has decreased in five provinces of this area. Last year, Nimroz province saw only 18 millimeters of rain, which caused drought and low groundwater levels in the hot and scorching weather.

However, due to the decrease in monsoon rains in the winter of last year and the spring of this year in Nimroz province, there is no water in the Kamal Khan Dam, which has just been put into operation, and some of the rain water that was harvested, evaporated and dried under scorching heat.