Only about 27 percent of households in Afghanistan have reliable access to potable water. Many people used to rely on an extensive network of karez, underground tunnels that carried water throughout the country. However, sustained conflict has rendered much of this system completely unusable. Without the karez, communities remain extremely vulnerable to changes in rainfall patterns and droughts. Excessive deforestation has also contributed to the arid landscape of Afghanistan, in addition to increasing air pollution and making communities more vulnerable to flooding. Only a few years ago, flooding claimed more than 1,200 lives in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In the last 50 years, the Hindu Kush glaciers have shrunk by about 30 percent, which means that an increasing number of Afghans now rely on groundwater reserves. To ensure that people around the nation have access to drinking water, Ehsanollah Bayat has undertaken a number of well projects in several different provinces through the Bayat Foundation. While these wells help safeguard the health of the Afghan people, the government must also focus on ways to address environmental changes that have contributed to the country’s limited access to drinking water.