Improving Water Supply System in Afghanistan

by Yahyah M.

Yahyah Mohammed

Mr. Mohammad Qaasim Yahyah is an Afghan national and has completed his B. Eng. from the Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering, Balkh University, Afghanistan. He is a faculty member at the Department of Water Engineering and Hydraulic Structure at Balkh University.  Mr. Yahyah has worked with several national and international organizations inside and outside the country such as United Nation organizations and academic institutions. He has completed a master’s degree from the Department of Structural Engineering, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand in 2008. He was involved in several research projects related to Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in Afghanistan and Central Asian Countries. Mr. Yahyah has participated in several international programs and conferences around the world such as the Going Global conference in the UK, Asian Conference on Common Challenges and Common Opportunities in Berlin, Germany, and many other central Asian countries. He also attended several training programs in Thailand, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Germany, and Afghanistan. Currently, Mr. Yahyah is a Ph.D. candidate at TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany, and on verge of completing it in 2022. He is a member of EMPOWER program and working on a project titled “Improving Capacity and Design of Water Supply System in Mazar-e-Sharif City”, Afghanistan.

What project idea did you generate or nurture during your time in EMPOWER program?

During the time that I am part of EMPOWER program I have learned and developed my capacity in terms of project idea as well as proposal development. At the beginning, I was interested to work on water resource management, specifically on transboundary issues in Afghanistan but due to limited time, I started searching for new topic related to my country. Right now, I am working on water supply design and distribution for Mazar city of Afghanistan.

In today’s world, especially in urban areas, it is very important to have a clean and reliable drinking water supply. To achieve this, we need to adapt complex distribution water systems, which can fulfill the needs of the urban population. Although many countries have paid attention to provide clean drinking water to the urban population, in Afghanistan the state-of-the-art technology is still missing. To provide Afghanistan with a good water system, I’m doing specific research, based on scientific ground-work. I’m working on improving the methodologies on water supply by using multi-mode water pipelines and develop mathematical models, which reconstruct the supply chain of the water system in Mazar-e-Sharif City of Balkh province.

What lasting memories do you associate with your time in EMPOWER program?

I feel the “EMPOWER” title is very apt, as it really empowered me and give the opportunity to work with colleagues who have a different experience, nationality, and perception. We had a good atmosphere, specifically spending time with professional program coordinators, instructors, and facilitators. They gave us new ideas and capacity for our future professional work. I can see big changes within myself with respect to building up my calibre, before and after the program.

What is the current status of your EMPOWER project?

As mentioned earlier, I am working on the design of a water supply system and distribution in Mazar-e-Sharif, which is one of the biggest city in Northern Afghanistan. To finalize the model, I have almost completed my data collection and now working on GAMS software to do analysis & obtain results. For the last one year, I’m staying in Afghanistan, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, which opened an opportunity to wrap-up most of my research activities.

What is the next phase of your project?

The next phase for my project will be conducting analysis and design part to get the results. The most important point in my view is that my project is to be recognized by the water supply department in Mazar-e-Sharif city as well as my home University. When I complete the project, it will be shared with the water supply department for their review and possible applying to their future program in Mazar city.

What internal and external contacts did you build throughout your time in EMPOWER program?

Through empower program, I got the opportunity to have close contact with international PhD students in TU BAF as well as other neighboring universities. I earned capacity from empower program, which helped me to establish an academic relationship with experts in central Asia and Afghanistan. Further, I got the opportunity to contact USAID funded project in Afghanistan and now I am partially working with Strengthening Watershed and Irrigation Management program in northern Afghanistan.

What is your motivation for joining this EMPOWER project?

Since I joined my PhD program in TU BAF, I was staying off-campus alone and did not have close contact with other students. When I joined the empower program, it connected me to the international environment and helped me to build a new network from different cultures and expertise. In my capacity, the EMPOWER program did a lot for me personally and professionally.

Will you tell us your life motto at the end (250 characters)?

Carrying out professional work is never tiring for many people. By using the knowledge gained from the EMPOWER program, I will do my best to improve the life of humans in my/any other country.

Which elements of EMPOWER training do you find most helpful?

There are many elements from the empower program that helped me to build personal and professional capacity. I can only mention a few of them such as multi-cultural environment, multi-disciplinary background, brainstorming, exchanging ideas and project development. The most important element is the motivation from colleagues, speakers, and especially Dr. Wopat.