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In 1998, total water withdrawal was estimated at 20.373 km3, of which 20.0 km3 or 98 percent was for agriculture, 1 percent for municipal and 1 percent for industrial purposes (Table 5 and Figure 1). Of total water withdrawal 17.317 km3 or 85 percent was from surface water sources and the remainder 3.056 km3 or 15 percent from groundwater (Figure 2) (Rout, 2008). In 1987, total water withdrawal was an estimated 26.11 km3 of which 25.8 km3 or 99 percent for agricultural purposes.
Referring to the Government of Afghanistan’s 1980s yearbook statistics, the total annual groundwater extraction amounted to some 3 km3 (Favre and Kamal, 2004). Uhl and Tahiri (2003) estimated groundwater withdrawal for irrigation to be 2.8 km3/year.
Historically, groundwater withdrawal has been largely limited to water from shallow unconfined aquifers abstracted using karez and traditional wells from which water is drawn using animal power (arhad). More recently, deeper confined aquifers are being developed for domestic and municipal water supply using modern well-drilling techniques (Rout, 2008).