The taste of Kabul air

Darul-aman Road, Kabul / Sep. 2010

The polluted air is probably the most distinct urban characteristic of Kabul city. This air claims 3000 lives each year, which is higher than the number of civilians killed by NATO forces and Taliban combined.

This beautifully shot report by Karishma Vyas gives some good insights into the problem:

One issue which was not noted in the report is Kabul’s lack of any mechanism or infrastructure for human waste management. Kabul doesn’t have a sewage system, this makes you wonder where all the the human waste in this over-populated city of 5 millions go? According to Prince Mustafa Zahir, the director of Afghanistan Environment Protection Agency, a considerable part of it goes into air. “According to our lab tests”, he told a reporter in December last year, “the Kabul’s polluted  air contains 32 percent human waste, in the form of powder”!  Well, in other words, those who live in Kabul city, literally eat $hit on a daily basis without knowing it, (no offence)!

This is a major health and social problem in Kabul, which is getting worse every day. The Kabul municipality has proposed a plan for construction of Kabul sewage system which will cost $850 millions. This is a lot of money that no one will pay, I am sure.  The corrupt officials in the government, would rather eat shit than investing money in infrastructure.

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2 thoughts on “The taste of Kabul air

  1. Unlike most other countries in advanced economies where water is in plentiful supply and therefore rain water is usually used to wash and push and channel sewage down inclined sloped underground sewage tunnels, Kabul or should I say the whole of Afghanistan cannot and does not have this capacity. So any nonsense from anyone from this hopeless government inventing such a concept is prone to failure as has been this exercise in democracy experiment. I suggest you seek advice from an expert like me with a post grad from UCL in Chem Eng. to tell you what you really require, which is in essence a building code of practice that all buildings should incorporate a re-cycling system incorporating a biological reactor and most importantly, the separation of black and grey water, and therefore a decentralised sewage system. The waste water is then either channelled down to a nearest pool where it is pumped and collected to the nearest place where it will be sent down sedimentary reed bed (Phragmites australis) installations. transfer oxygen from its leaves, down through its stem, porous speta and rhizomes, and out via its root system into the rhizosphere ( root system.)
    As a result of this action, a very high population of micro-organisms occurs in the rhizosphere, with zones of aerobic, anoxic, and anaerobic conditions.
    Therefore with the waste water moving very slowly and carefully through the mass of Reed roots, this liquid can be successfully treated, in a manner somewhat similar to conventional biological filter bed systems of sewage treatment. In area where distances and land is restricted for whatever reason small main sewage installations plants should be installed. The cost of all this will certainly reach $300-$500m for all of Kabul, however it will be done properly and save a lot of water. However Afghanistan and it’s people are beyond help if this corrupt government and its corrupt affiliates are in power. The solution is a complete cleanse, either all of the pre-selected government chosen by the west be removed, or this nonsense with continue endlessly. You might say, well who will replace them. The answer is anybody that has never worked in the government will be better that these that are there currently. We Afghans capable to run things without this evil being put upon our heads. A country that has hardly any water resources, has entire barren unproductive land and billions have been spent, but if you want the government to do a geological survey to source water on your land, they don’t even have geological magnetic, electric or seismic instrumentation to do the job, which costs about $50k. We have 38 useless bankrupt countries trying to teach us about democracy, and instead they give us chaos and call it help. Judicial law is only there in words, however it is never used by judges, except when it suites them to delay a case in order to extract money from the weak. Mr. Mustafa Zahir installation of an expensive particulate sensor will do very little in reducing the particulates from diesel engines, unless he installs a checking station for every car (MOT, Tüv etc ) and/or the regulatory installation of particulate filters on cars as mandatory would be asking a bit too much from these folks. I heard the Mayor in an interview on a Kabul TV channel outlandish comments that one tree planed was equivalent to the oxygen intake of 9 persons per year. I did the calculations scientifically and found this to be as ridiculous as he sound. In actual fact it is the other way round, if anything. If anyone wishes for the actual data, then contact me.

  2. This is a bit rich coming from an Indian, where 40% of the populace don’t have access to a toilet. Or the fact that a substantially large part of your population takes an annual bath in the Ganges: where there is shit and dead bodies floating nearby. so let’s no throw stones at anybody.

    But in all honesty I think they would rather breath shit than do anything about it, as for Afghans it is always someone’s else responsibility to fix things. The mentality needs to change or even better the populace needs educating and as for the grotesque pimps in charge of the government; one can hope they will choke on all the shit in the air.

    The lack of water in that area is a real problem, One solution would be to build new cities in better locations with better infrastructure and move government from Kabul. simple.

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