People, Environment

Lack of Funding Hampers Dust Storm Plans

Lack of Funding Hampers Dust Storm PlansLack of Funding Hampers Dust Storm Plans

Plans to combat dust storms in the embattled Khuzestan Province will not progress, as long as adequate budget is not allocated, said a professor of geochemistry at Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz.

Speaking to ILNA, Professor Alireza Zarasvandi added that plans have been laid out and everything is ready to be set in motion to curb the destructive impacts of the phenomenon, but it would be naïve to expect significant results in the short run.

“This isn’t a small problem, which means it cannot be effectively addressed within a year or two,” he said.

The plan is divided into three phases: short-, medium- and long-term.

The short-term phase, which has been completed, included the handing out of face masks, raising awareness and equipping healthcare facilities.

The plan’s medium-term phase, which is being carried out, includes wetland restoration and protection projects.

Major wetlands in the province, especially Hoor al-Azim, are heading toward desiccation. The drying up of these ecologically-rich habitats transforms them into major sources of dust storms.

Mulching sources of dust storms comprises the long-term goal of the plan.

“It has to be noted that these steps aim to fix the problem within our borders. We cannot control sources of dust storms outside Iran. We have to explore diplomatic avenues to address the problem,” he said.

Zarasvandi reiterated that lack of funding is hampering the progress of the plan and called on officials to remedy the problem as soon as possible.

In recent years, dust storms in the western parts of Iran, particularly Khuzestan Province, have grown in frequency and intensity. They have on occasions caused serious respiratory problems in locals and forced authorities to shut schools and offices.