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Water and Sanitation in Afghanistan

As a civil engineer and called out reservist I am about to be posted to Afghanistan and may become involved in water and or sewerage.

I would be grateful for any information that you could provide on;

  1. Hand pumps, their delivery rates, height of lift they can be used for, availability and prices (I am aware of the introduction of boreholes and submersible pumps in the area I'm going to and of their adverse effects on the water table in other areas)

  2. Appropriate next steps in sewerage for villages that have traditionally relied on households looking after their own needs and disposal but have sewage, seepage or primary effluent spilling out into roads. Communal septic tanks and perhaps reed beds prior to soakaway/river outfall spring to mind but I am unsure about their cultural acceptability.

  3. Any information you have on relief agencies and NGOs in the south-eastern areas of Helmand and Kandahar.

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I am back in Afghanistan again at present and I would suggest that much of questions "1" and "2" might be answered by reference to the widely used "Blue Book" for community water and sanitation (handpumps and Afghan type vault and pit latrines). The document is widely distributed and used in Afghanistan in English, Dari and Pashto and has pump assembly instructions and spares etc for the widely used AFRIDEV. It also has bills of quantity and technical details plus drawings for wells and latrines. The correct name of the blue book is .....

Community Handpump Water Supply and Sanitation Guide for Afghanistan, Water and Sanitation Group , Afghanistan 1999, UNICEF Afghanistan

In my experience septic tanks are not widely used in Afghanistan due to: 1.) terrain 2.) difficulty of digging in rock 3.) the vault type allows the faecal material to be used for composting - indeed it is so valuable locals put locks on the vaults to stop it being stolen, and I know of schools where neighbours buy the material from the latrine vault.

All this is covered in the "Blue Book" and pretty well any local NGO will be familiar with it .... I have worked in 10 provinces and I think in most places the book was known, including in the East at Nangahar, and also in South in Kandahar

Regarding cost the AFRIDEVs and India MK II come standard price for head (above ground mechanism) , the cylinder assembly but costs for and connecting rods, riser pipes and seals are to suit the depth and additional spare parts and tools should also be allowed.

Attached is a matrix I developed for estimating a well programme in Samangan (North Afghanistan) in early 2002. As I recall the basic AFRIDEV unit, if purchased in quantity was about $US 350 per unit at that time

I am not personally very familiar with the India as we normally use the Afradev which is good from about 20 to 45 metres, though they are quite similar. AFRIDEV is frequently used in Afghanistan. Also the type of pump will depend on the depth of the aquifer as the India pumps come as a standard deep well handpump (20 to 45 metres) and also as an extra deepwell handpump (45 to 90 metres). There is also an option type India pump for corrosive well waters

Regards,

Chris

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  1. Hand pumps, their delivery rates, height of lift they can be used for, availability and prices (I am aware of the introduction of boreholes and submersible pumps in the area I'm going to and of their adverse effects on the water table in other areas) You can use handpumps for any lift, but going over 60m tends to be difficult. Deeper boreholes generally work better with a shaft driven rotor pump like a mono than with an India Mark II or other piston pump. The rule is to use whatever can be maintained locally, as this is the big issue with handpumps. Handpump yield vary, but are typically less than 0.2l/s under normal conditions. Hand pumps rarely have any impact on water tables - only is you have perched lenses of water. The big problems come with motor pumps, especially when used for irrigation (irrigation demand can be estimated at 1l/s/Ha). Afghanistan has a lot of Qanat water systems - basically audits that run into hillsides to exploit aquifers of low permeability. The systems can be 10s of km longs, and are built by sinking a shaft every 50 to 100m. I don't know how common these systems are in the South.

  2. Appropriate next steps in sewerage for villages that have traditionally relied on households looking after their own needs and disposal but have sewage, seepage or primary effluent spilling out into roads. Communal septic tanks and perhaps reed beds prior to soakaway/river outfall spring to mind but I am unsure about their cultural acceptability.

Nightsoil systems are common in Afghanistan. Houses typically have latrine system with night soil collecting at ground level. You can typically see small doors on the outside to give access to night soil collection. The problem come when night-soil collection stops due to social breakdown. or when the access doors are damage leading to nuisance. Night soil in urban areas is usually collected by a service provider who sells truck-loads of night soil to farmers as fertilizer. Rural families may well use it on their own plots. Waterborne sewerage is not an option unless you have plumbed houses. Reedbeds are usually not an option as flat land near villages is usually a priority for agriculture.

Regards,

John

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You can find some basic information on a variety of handpumps in the publication at http://www.rwsn.ch/documentation/skatdocumentation.2005-11-14.0937333101/

Regards, Brian

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2014-01-20 10:02:52 -0500
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Jan 20 '14