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River basins in Afghanistan

  • Context (DTE): A study was carried out to map the river basins in Afghanistan.
  • The researchers divided Afghanistan into five river basins.
    1. Harirod-Murghab River Basin (HMRB)
    2. Helmand River Basin (HRB)
    3. Kabul River Basin (KRB)
    4. Northern River Basin (NRB)
    5. Panj-Amu River Basin (PARB)

River basin in Afghanistan

  • Four are transboundary basins flowing to neighbouring countries except the Northern Basin.

Harirod-Murghab River Basin (HMRB)

  • The Harirod and Murghab rivers form the drainage system in the north-western region.
  • Origin and flow: Mountain range of central Afghanistan and flows westward across the Herat Valley.
  • It is the main source of irrigation water for agriculture along the fertile lands of the valley.

Helmand River Basin (HRB)

  • At 51 per cent, the HRB is the largest river basin in Afghanistan.
  • The Helmand is the longest and biggest river in southwest Afghanistan.
  • Origin and flow: Mountain ranges west of Kabul and drains into seasonal lakes along the Afghanistan-Iran border.

Kabul River Basin (KRB)

  • KRB is mainly formed by the Kabul River.
  • The Kabul River is the largest drainage system in the southeastern region.
  • Origin and flow: Paghman Range and flows eastward to join the Indus River in Pakistan.
  • The KRB covers 11 percent of Afghanistan. It receives water primarily from the Kunar River, which flows from melting glaciers and snow in the Hindu Kush mountains.

Amu Darya River Pamirs Map

Northern River Basin (NRB)

  • The Shirin, Sarepul and Balkh are the large rivers in the NRB.
  • It supplies the least water among the five river basins.

Panj-Amu River Basin (PARB)

  • The PARB is mainly formed by the Amu Darya, whose headstream is the Panj. Historically known as Oxus, the Amu Darya flows into Central Asia and ends in the now-dead Aral Sea.
  • Origin and flow of Amu River: Glaciers of the Pamirs and drains to the northeastern and northern parts of Afghanistan.
  • PARB is Afghanistan’s second-largest basin. It also overlaps with neighbouring Tajikistan.
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