Afghanistan, a country with unspoiled nature and the beauty of the Hindu Kush mountains, has been scarred by decades of occupation and civil war. The situation in many parts of the country is still uncertain: Afghanistan suffers from corruption, weak government capacity, and inadequate infrastructure. Rapid urbanisation, deforestation and soil erosion complicate access to fresh water, and untreated wastewater is increasingly becoming a problem in cities. In Kabul there is only one wastewater treatment plant designed for 60,000 of the now 5 million residents.The drinking water supply mainly comes from shallow wells, which have become contaminated. Therefore, Afghanistan, with its young population of 60% under the age of 24, has the world’s highest child mortality rate.To ensure public health and the sustainable protection of natural resources, the challenge here is to build the capacity of public service and secure livelihoods.

Since 2011, BORDA supports basic sanitation and decentralised wastewater treatment in northern, western, and eastern Afghanistan with its own project offices in Kabul and Herat. With funds from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BORDA promotes learning projects, dual vocational training, and training to operate decentralised wastewater treatment systems. The focus is on local policy makers, small companies and trades.

BORDA works closely with the responsible authorities, such as the Ministry of Urban Development, the national environmental agency, and the Afghan public utilities for water and wastewater. With the support of local NGOs and educational institutions like Afghan schools and the Children’s Aid Afghanistan, BORDA organises school projects on hygiene and health. Since the spring of 2014, the planning and designing of decentralised wastewater treatment systems using the DEWATS approach has been taught as part of the regular engineering curriculum at the Afghan Technical Vocational Institute (ATVI). To support this, BORDA and the CDD Society in India developed and delivered training for ATVI teachers.

To regulate the implementation of decentralised wastewater treatment systems, BORDA and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GiZ) are currently developing quality standards to support national wastewater regulations.

An approach for rural areas includes training local trades businesses in the design, construction and operation of biogas plants – which have already been introduced in cities as part of decentralised wastewater treatment.Using organic waste to produce energy is a practical way to implement the nexus approach “water-energy-food security”.As a first step, BORDA founded the Biogas Consortium in 2014, in cooperation with the German NGO Help. All technical and social experiences will be transferred to the government through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and included in new government policies. UNEP has become the patron of the Consortium.

Autonomous Region Kurdistan

Since year 2011, the conflict in Syria and it is estimated that more than 9 million people have fled the war. 6 to 7 million Syrian people have fled within the country, with about 3 million taking refuge in neighbouring countries. Currently there are 224,000 Syrian people living in Iraq, nearly 40 % of them children. Most of the Syrian refugees reside in the three administrative regions Duhok, Erbil, and Sulaymaniyah of Kurdistan due to proximity, language, safety aspects, and economic factors.

BORDA began its work in October 2014 in response to the increasing number of Syrian refugees in Iraq. The main focuses of BORDA’s work are knowledge transfer in the area of basic sanitation as well as the implementation of projects for wastewater treatment in the refugee camps and the surrounding communities who accommodate refugees. Thanks to the project office in Iraq, BORDA is responsive and flexible to collaborate with the humanitarian organisations UNCHR, UNICEF and regional NGOs.

Working in such a context involves many challenges to meet the basic needs of the refugees. These challenges include the security situation, the unknown duration of the current situation, and the ability to adapt to changing and growing camps and handle the needs of the refugees and those of the local people, particularly where infrastructure and land for the camps are needed. Another factor is the ability to act swiftly because of the dramatic situation of the target groups.

In cooperation with the local municipality, BORDA’s regional office uses a development approach, which includes pilot projects for wastewater treatment, educational projects, information and knowledge management, and professional training. BORDA’s position as an established development aid organisation, in collaboration with local partners, makes it possible in this crisis to find and implement an effective response to meet the needs of the people.