UN to Assist Iran in Water Management

UN to Assist Iran in Water ManagementUN to Assist Iran in Water Management

The United Nations will cooperate with Iran on water resources management and lagoon preservation, UN resident coordinator in Iran said during his visit to Khuzestan Province, IRNA reported.

"Current and future climate conditions have presented challenges to the environment," Gas Lewis said, adding that the UN will assist Iran to reduce the effects. Evaluation of environmental conditions, in particular on the subject of wetlands in the southern province, was the main purpose of the visit, he noted.

In line with the provisions of Iran’s Fifth Five-Year Development Plan (2011-2016) and the 2012-2016 United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), the UN will contribute to the efforts to further integrate environmental considerations into decision making at national, sub-national, and inter-sectoral levels.

As a result of this joint partnership, by 2016, national, sub-national and local capacities will be enhanced to ensure integrated management, conservation and sustainable use of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity; mainstreaming of environmental economics into national planning and audits, effective use of knowledge and tools in prevention, control of and response to current and emerging environmental pollution, as well as formulation and implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation plans and projects.

While Khuzestan is best known as Iran’s oil-rich province, it also lies in the fertile crescent, on some of the earth best water and land. However, drying out of rivers and wetlands in Khuzestan has drastically changed the regional landscape.

Prolonged Drought

Iran has been hit by "severe drought" in the past 14 years, energy minister Hamid Chitchian said. "Climate change and an increase in temperature are aggravating climate issues in Iran."

Water management in summer is the ministry's utmost priority, Chitchian noted. Average precipitation, which stood at 250 millimeters, has diminished to 205 millimeters. This is approximately one third of the global average. Precipitation is below average in most provinces, with water levels in 13 provinces has reportedly been extremely critical and in 11 provinces in alarming conditions.

An increase in the temperature and the consequent water vapor has depleted renewable water resources from the previous 130 billion cubic meters (bcm) to 105 bcm. The minister called for short-term, mid-term, and long-term planning to address water shortages. "Curbing consumption is the main means available to confront climate issues."

The budget for water supply projects has increased by six-fold in the current Iranian calendar year (began March 21). In addition to the 4,000 billion rials ($120 million) budgetary allocation, the parliament has also authorized allocation of $500 million from the National Development Fund of Iran (NDFI) for water projects in rural areas.