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Advanced satellite water search for 2,25 million USD

DACAAR, DTU and Kabul University are ready with advanced satellite water search for 2,25 million USD. There are great perspectives for Afghanistan and other fragile countries in a newly developed satellite based water search in Afghanistan. From satellites, DTU (Denmark’s Technical University) collects data on Afghanistan’s scarce water resources as a basis for efficient relief work. Everything will be coordinated and further developed with DACAAR and the University of Kabul.

DACAAR, DTU, and Kabul´s Polytechnic University are very excited about a new grant from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The purpose of the grant is to develop one of the most advanced satellite programmes ever for water search and sustainable climate adaptation in one of the most fragile and vulnerable regions of the world.

The grant of almost DKK 12 million takes the total budget to more than DKK 14 million (approx. USD 2,25 million) for the project “Water for Afghanistan.”
Armed conflict, natural disasters resulting from climate change, poor infrastructure and political interference, make it difficult to locate water, especially during droughts. It also makes it hard to divert water properly during floods.

The situation calls for new innovative water technologies and solutions. Not just for finding water, but also for purification of drinking water, another major component of the project. Often, the presence of salt and arsenic in Afghan is far beyond recommended levels. Purification calls for adapted technologies, which in turn are developed in cooperation with Afghan researchers.

The partnership is unique. DTU in Denmark can manage large parts of the satellite program in remote parts of Afghanistan, while Afghan researchers can contribute to the implementation of the program locally whilst receiving training through the cooperation with DTU.

“DACAAR is proud of the fact that “Water for Afghanistan” is anchored in our organization as an administrative partner,” says Klaus Løkkegaard, Head of Secretariat for DACAAR in Copenhagen.
A total of five DTU researchers and three researchers from Kabul will work on the project. They will be assisted on the ground by local experts from DACAAR. The technical part is led by DTU’s PhD and Associate Professor, Martin Rygaard, who sees global perspectives for the project:
“The trick in “Water for Afghanistan” is that we gain knowledge to determine the water balance in fragile and remote areas where it is unsafe to send people out for exploration. This knowledge can also be used far beyond Afghanistan, for example in Africa”, explains Martin Rygaard.

“When we are able to predict the water balance, we can send local people specifically to where water projects make sense for both water supply and safety. In our collaboration with Afghan researchers, we will conduct many meetings over Teams or Zoom. If security allows, we can also meet physically in Kabul or Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries if needed. The satellite methods have never been tested to this extent before, and in the long term there is also the possibility of involving drones”, says Martin Rygaard.
For DACAAR with 36 years of experience in water projects, “Water for Afghanistan” is a promising tool during the growing conflict between the Taliban and the Afghan government – and during the ongoing corona pandemic. As Klaus Løkkegaard points out: “We look forward to help poor, vulnerable Afghan civilians in remote areas in this new and effective manner. At the same time, we can provide better protection to many of our 1,000 local employees in Afghanistan, since the new technology will make it possible to target our water interventions in a much more precise way. This saves a lot of movement around the often insecure regions of the country”.


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