Help by tradition – water sources in Afghanistan
Many NGOs build expensive water pumps, wells and pipe schemes which provide local people with good quality water. The system of pumps, pipes and wells usually has one disadvantage. Local people do not largely have the right skills, knowledge and money to repair the pumps or pipes after NGOs leaves the area. This is the reason why many new wells are out of order after one or two years.
The real help may be simpler. Afghans have been using for many centuries traditional systems and tools to access water, which after decades of the war need only reconstructions or small improvements. It is true that the quality is then lower than the one from new wells, but it works and without any need of sophisticated technologies. The easy way to reach sources of water is called karezes and kandas.
Karez is an ancient system located in arid regions that brings groundwater from a cliff or a base of mountains following a water-bearing formation (aquifer) or rarely from rivers through an underground tunnel or series of tunnels and emerges at an oasis. The tunnels, generally several kilometres long, are roughly horizontal, with a slope. This allows water to drain out by gravity to the surface of lower and flatter agricultural lands.
Kandas are underground water tanks that collect water from rain and snow. They are big reservoirs filled with rainwater from which water for drinking can be used during dry months. Apparently it’s not the best water but the only water available.