Poor Funding Hampers DoE Agenda

Poor Funding Hampers DoE AgendaPoor Funding Hampers DoE Agenda

The Department of Environment (DoE) will not be able to deliver as long as the department’s budget remains low, according to the head of the DoE taskforce to combat dust storms Zia’eddin Shoa’ee.

Speaking to IRNA, the official said that the DoE’s budget is insufficient and it does not reflect the department’s responsibilities.

The parliament recently passed an act allowing it to investigate the taskforce, a move which has been met with criticism. “The parliament first rejected the department’s request for more funding, and now the MPs expect the DoE to be able to find workable solutions to the dust storms,” Shoa’ee said.

Even though the parliament later decided to increase the department’s budget, Shoa’ee said the move was “too little, too late.”

“By the time they reversed their decision, we had already lost precious time.”

The DoE had requested a budget worth 600 billion rials ($18 million) to fight the dust storms, which was denied by the parliament. However, after several meetings between the DoE officials and MPs, the budget was approved – albeit too late.

Dust storms have become a major nuisance in Iran in the past few years, mostly affecting western and southwestern provinces. Matters plummeted to a new low in 2011, when Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province was ranked the world’s most polluted city by the World Health Organization (WHO). In early 2015, severe dust storms in Ahvaz filled emergency rooms and forced provincial officials to urge people to stay indoors.

As the foremost authority on environmental issues, the DoE has been tasked with fighting the dust storms and implementing workable solutions to the problem. To that end, the department has signed memorandums of understanding (MoU) with regional countries such as Iraq.

Dust storms in Iran have domestic and foreign sources, with officials claiming the main sources lie outside the borders - mainly in Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.