EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Hydrogeoethical questions related to urban groundwater management: the case of Kabul city, Afghanistan

Mohammad Salem Hussaini1,2,3, Asadullah Farahmand2,3,4, and Manuel Abrunhosa2,3,5
Mohammad Salem Hussaini et al.
  • 1Kabul Polytechnic University, Faculty of Geology and Mines, Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, Kabul, Afghanistan (
  • 2Portuguese Chapter of International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), Portugal
  • 3Afghan section of International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG), Kabul, Afghanistan
  • 4Groundwater Resources Department, Ministry of Energy and Water, Kabul, Afghanistan
  • 5Centre for Earth and Space Research of the University of Coimbra (CITEUC), Coimbra, Portugal

Groundwater resources are largely invisible and unknown to most people. Hence, unauthorized appropriation of groundwater is not obvious, and its impacts are less evident. It can be said that it is an invisible geo-resource but its impacts and problems are visible to mankind, even if often its source is not recognized. Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, is the fifth fastest-growing city in the world and rapid population growth and urbanization have created huge pressure on groundwater resources. As a result of a lack of surface water storage and the seasonal variability of river flows, Kabul is among the world's most water-stressed cities as it depends almost entirely on groundwater. The findings of scientific studies reveal that extensive groundwater depletion and degradation of groundwater quality in Kabul city is largely due to anthropogenic factors and it is likely to rapidly continue in the future, particularly in densely populated areas of the city. Here, ethics can play an important role because human behavior is among the main factors creating the problems. So, hydrogeoethical concepts can be assessed and discussed, especially for urban groundwater where human needs (social ethics) and environmental dynamics (environmental ethics) both should be respected. In this study, the most vital questions related to ethical aspects of groundwater management in Kabul city are extracted. To achieve the questions, the water ethics principles and ethical criteria were evaluated concerning the condition of groundwater and the society of Kabul city, as an exercise of applied hydrogeoethics. Finally, six questions are obtained as the result of this study. The response to these critical questions could be a key to solving many dilemmas related to groundwater management in an urban concept. It is recommended to groundwater managers and policymakers explore the answer to these questions and consider the findings in the policies, strategies, and regulations, particularly in urban regions.

The questions are as follows:

1) What is the level of contribution, obligation, responsibility, honesty, trust, and respect among geoscientists, and engineers related to groundwater management?

2) What kind of regulation is adequate for the management of over-abstraction urban groundwater; top-down or self-regulation or a mix of both?

3) How education and communication can shape moral motivation for city residents to better groundwater management?

4) What is the level of participation of public media (TV, radio, newspapers, etc.) in awareness-raising campaigns related to groundwater conditions?

5) Can groundwater abstraction from the deep aquifer (groundwater mining) be an ethical and sustainable policy concerning future generations and environmental ethics?

6) How consideration of gender equity and women's participation can be effective in the management of groundwater?

How to cite: Hussaini, M. S., Farahmand, A., and Abrunhosa, M.: Hydrogeoethical questions related to urban groundwater management: the case of Kabul city, Afghanistan, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-8072,, 2023.