Drinking water quality assessment and governance in Kabul: A case study from a district with high migration and underdeveloped infrastructure

Mohammad Hamid Hamdard1*, Ilkhom Soliev2, Li Xiong3, Bjørn Kløve4

1 Kabul University, Faculty of Biology, Botany Department, Kabul, Afghanistan

2 Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Policy, Germany

3 Central China Normal University, School of Life Science, Wuhan, Hubei, P.R.China

4 University of Oulu, Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, Faculty of Technology, Finland

* Corresponding author: hamdard.ku177@gmail.com 

Ilkhom Soliev: isoliev@daad-alumni.de; Li Xiong: lxiong@emory.edu; Bjørn Kløve: bjorn.klove@oulu.fi


Research Article


The main aim of this paper is to analyze the characteristics of the drinking water quality in Kabul city and identify its suitability for drinking. During the work, a total of 60 water samples were collected from four drinking water sources (qanat, open well, tap water, and a hand pump) located at different points and were tested for physical, chemical, and biological parameters. Physical and chemical analyses were performed according to the standard methods, while a bacterial analysis was performed by using the Wagtech Potatest single incubator test kit and membrane filter method. The results obtained were compared with the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Afghanistan’s National Standards Administration (ANSA). The study showed that physical parameters were within acceptable limits for qanat, open well, and tap waters. However, color, taste, odor, and turbidity values exceeded the recommended limits for hand pump wells. All analyzed chemical parameters were within permissible limits recommended by WHO/ANSA. The bacteriological analysis showed total coliform and fecal coliform contamination, particularly in warm weather conditions. The bacteriological contamination reveals the mixing of the sewage water with drinking water due to expired corroded pipes and discharge of wastewater to the groundwater. Several governance recommendations are proposed for improving water quality. They include strengthening coordination between government and public, considering options to install a new water distribution and sewage collection networks, enforcing standards for adequately preventing contamination from septic tanks, and increasing public awareness on low-cost measures such as boiling the drinking water before intake.

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How to cite: Hamdard, M. H., Soliev, I., Xiong, L., & Kløve, B. (2020). Drinking water quality assessment and governance in Kabul: A case study from a district with high migration and underdeveloped infrastructure. Central Asian Journal of Water Research, 6(1), 66–81. https://doi.org/10.29258/cajwr/2020-r1.v6-1/66-81.eng


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Afghanistan, coliform, contamination, groundwater, Potable water, water quality