Sustainable irrigation: Karez system in Afghanistan

Abdullah Azami1*, Jay Sagin2, 3, Sayed Hashmat Sadat1, Hejratullah Hejran4

1 Kabul University, Kabul, Afghanistan

2 Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, USA

3 Nazarbayev University, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan

4 Kazakh-German University, Almaty, Kazakhstan

*Corresponding author:

Jay Sagin:; Sayed Hashmat Sadat:; Hejratullah Hejran:

Research Article


In Afghanistan, water is mostly used for agricultural purposes. The water supply chain requires updating to ensure its sustainability. Different irrigation methods – such as surface water based irrigation (via canals), groundwater based irrigation, and the Karez irrigation system – are applied across the country. Considering the compatibility of the Karez system with the environment, it can be deemed the most effective irrigation scheme, as it allows collecting a significant amount of groundwater and conveying it to land surface via sub-horizontal tunnels using gravity. This article analyzes Afghanistan’s Karez irrigation systems currently feeding water to over 170,000 ha of farmland with a potential to expand and become a component of sustainable water supply chain.

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For citation: Azami, A., Sagin, J., Sadat, S. H., & Hejran, H. (2020). Sustainable Irrigation: Karez System in Afghanistan. Central Asian Journal of Water Research, 6(2), 1–18.


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Afghanistan, agriculture, irrigation system, karez, sustainable water supply