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Afghanistan Resource Education: Next Keys to Future National Success

By: , Posted on: August 6, 2014

The group of visiting geologists at Kabul Polytechnic University with Dr. Samuel Frimpong from MST in the middle and author Shroder from UNO with necktie and shirt second to his left. Between the two is the Chair of Geology Professor Amir M. Mosazai who teaches petrology at KPU. Professor Mosazai will lead a group of other geologists to the USA for further educational training in geology in September. The lady on the far right, Shannon Gallagher, is the TFBSO representative from Washington, DC, and the man in the far back is Mike Chornak from the US Geological Survey from Denver, Colorado. Standing directly right of Dr. Frimpong is translator Abdul Yaseer, who is the Head of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at UNO.

My new book, Natural Resources in Afghanistan, evaluates the many problems that so control the difficult lives people must live in that benighted part of the world. Part I summarizes the basic geology and geography of the country, with all of its hard physical and nasty human situations; Part II considers natural resources as bones of contention in a land of many bones; Part III shows all the past and present environmental problems and solutions; and Part IV gives the unpleasant facts of why the country might not much improve, but this pessimistic view is offset by a final optimistic chapter that the rich mineral resources may actually help the Afghan people escape their existing unpleasant fate. If this more pleasing future actually comes to pass it will be because of two factors: (1) education about how to get those resources out of the ground in environmentally protected ways; and (2) solutions to the unevenly distributed and declining water resources in the country.

The basic idea as to how the country can recover from its mountain of despair is the $1 – 3 trillion dollars of resources in the ground that are scattered throughout the country. A new idea about resource corridors is to link resource development to an integrated mining production and enhanced transportation network to smelting/refining and sales, while at the same time improving environmental protection, local development, job production, and social welfare to raise the whole standard of living throughout the country. The government of Afghanistan even has established a four-tiered contingency plan for this to happen, from full-flowering where everything comes off really well with no problems, all the way down to full collapse in the event of a new takeover by Taliban bandits, for example, where afterwards the country would still have to develop resource corridors to recover.

Browse or download Jack Shroder’s presentation to view more information on Afghanistan Natural Resources or continue reading the rest of his article below:

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Education is seen as the chief way to make all this happen, with the result that Kabul Polytechnic University has been selected for dramatic improvement in the geology and mining programs. The Task Force on Business Stability Operations (TFBSO) of the US Department of Defense was given the job of finding professors in the USA who would be willing to go into a war zone to start the process. Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST), and the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) both agreed and the first meetings in Kabul started in June 2014. Selected KPU faculty from geology, hydrogeology, and mining traveled to Turkey in July, and are planning on coming to USA in the fall. Initial emphasis is on course revisions in Historical Geology, Plate Tectonics, and Geohydrology for the geology program; Surface Mine Design, and Surface Mining Methods and Equipment for the open pit mining program; and Mine Safety and Health, and Mining as a Business in the underground mining program. Other changes will be made later. We can only hope that all this is not too little, too late.

Natural Resources in Afghanistan coverUNO has also been tasked with several transboundary water projects to help Afghanistan with its most vital resource. Afghanistan has five major river systems (Kabul, Helmand, Harirud – Murghab, Amu Darya) that it shares with its neighbors, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Assessment of levels of water domination in this region reveals maneuvers being made to maximize control of the resource by all neighboring nations, especially in the event of climate-change induced diminution. Afghanistan is positioned at the top of most of the resource watershed, which is an enviable position if the water-cognizant capacity of its people can be raised sufficiently to allow eventual negotiations for new treaties with all neighbors. Afghans are greatly worried that any new treaty negotiations will not go well unless they learn how to understand and manage their water resources better. UNO is responsible to help them do exactly that in coming years.

John’s upcoming book, Natural Resources in Afghanistan: Geographic and Geologic Perspectives on Centuries of Conflict is available for pre-order on the Elsevier Store. Use discount code “STC3014” to save up to 30% when you pre-order your own copy!

About the Author

john shroder biopic 2 wife preferenceDr. John F. Shroder has pursued research on natural hazards and resources for over half a century. He is Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Afghanistan Studies at University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he is Emeritus Professor of Geography and Geology. He has written or edited 43 books and more than 150 professional papers. Recently he has served as the editor in chief of Elsevier’s 14-volume Treatise on Geomorphology, and is currently editing their new book series on Hazards, Risks, and Disasters. In addition, he is the long-term Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier’s book series on Developments in Earth Surface Processes.

Dr. Shroder’s website lists many of his other past and present projects to use geological knowledge to protect against hazards and improve people’s wellbeing.  Later postings on the Afghanistan resource questions will include discussions of how to deal with distribution of diminishing transboundary water resources from Afghanistan to the surrounding countries, the subject of Dr. Shroder’s next book for Elsevier, Transboundary Water Resources of Afghanistan.

Dr. Shroder is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has received Distinguished Career awards from the Mountain and the Geomorphology Specialty Groups of the Association of American Geographers.  He also serves as a Trustee of the Geological Society of America Foundation.

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