Afghanistan's second largest dam, the Dahla, is benefit from almost $349 Million USD in new grant funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and an additional $230 Million USD from the World Bank for rehabilitation and expansion.
In Afghanistan water is scarce and highly seasonal. Agriculture is the country’s major source of livelihood, engaging an estimated 62 percent of the labor force.
The funding will be applied to the Arghandab Integrated Water Resources Development Project that will rehabilitate and increase the storage capacity of Dahla Dam in the country's Kandahar province, according to ADB (press release). Construction works include raising the main dam and associated structures to increase the full reservoir storage capacity from 288 million cubic meters (mcm) to 782 mcm. The increased storage capacity will provide the possibility of hydropower generation and, at the same time, offer additional urban and industrial water supply to Kandahar City.
The project will also increase reliable irrigation water supply, essential to the agriculture sector. Canals and structures will be upgraded, with the introduction of monitoring and control systems that will allow water on demand services in the province. Climate-smart irrigation and agricultural technologies and practices are to be adopted to improve production and sustainability. The program also includes training opportunities, scholarships, technology transfer, and advisory services.
“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,” said ADB Principal Natural Resources and Agriculture Specialist for Central and West Asia Mr. Hans Woldring. “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.”