Home News General A New Crisis Awaits Iran: Desertification

A New Crisis Awaits Iran: Desertification

Following a sharp drop in rainfall in the past year and the lack of management of surface runoff and groundwater aquifers, Iran is once again struggling with a drought, as it has been for the last two decades.

The Iranian government’s water transfer policies, which have caused a drought in the inter-basin situation, have caused the country to fall into the abyss of new water tensions, which, in the current context of the dysfunctional and corrupt economy and financial hardship, are unlikely to emerge.

The intensification of the drought in the country coincided with the consolidation of water transfer policies by the heads of the last four governments, which has led to the desertification of many parts of the country’s soil.

Desertification map, Iran as one of the worst effected regions in the world, with a ‘Very High’ vulnerability.

Some 60 percent of Iran’s lands are exposed to desert. This is what has been announced by Iran’s Organization for Forests, Rangeland and Watershed by the Ministry of Agriculture. The progress of desertification in Iran’s soil occurs in a situation where the desert per capita in Iran is more than twice the global average.

The intensification of desertification and continuous drought, due to the development of dam construction and wrong plans to transfer water from basin to basin, the unmanaged establishment of industries, the emphasis on unprincipled and high-consumption agriculture has accelerated the process of desertification in Iran.

What has increased Iran’s deserts to an alarming situation is not climate change and geographical location, but inefficient management and neglection of the share of natural water from available resources by the government.

Natural and environmental crises are not the interest of the officials, and none of the statesmen are held accountable for the non-implementation of the intended goals in any development plan which they claim exist.

But the reality shows something else. The fact is that desertification is no longer just the drought of lands and aqueducts, but the decline in soil fertility and increased migration are new consequences of desertification in Iran.

The migration of many rural areas and cities has intensified the desertification and made it even more horrifying, but these are not the only dimensions of desertification in Iran.

Iran’s groundwater resources are running out. Iran consumes more than 85 percent of its freshwater resources annually, while global statistics show that more than 60 percent of water consumption is a sign of crisis and water stress.

On the other hand, air pollution is increasing and biodiversity in Iran has suffered unprecedented destruction, as statistics released by the Global Carbon Project show that Iran is the seventh largest air polluter in the world with an annual emission of 648 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Climate change in Iran, along with unmanaged drought, is exacerbating the trend of territorial inefficiency. This situation can be seen in the destruction of 18 million oaks in the west of the country, which have slowly dried up.

Some 20 percent of the country’s lands are located on the desert strip, which is called by the state-run outlets as a silent earthquake. Currently, 18 provinces and 97 cities of Iran are involved in desertification, and this numbers are increasing annually.

Mehdi Ghomshi, a University Professor and Head of the Research Institute of Water Sciences at Shahid Chamran University, in an interview with Gostaresh News said: “The Iranian nation has long struggled with the demon of drought, and this is due to the special position of the Iranian plateau.”

About the government’s negligence, he said: “However, in Iran, which has been facing drought for thousands of years, there is no proper management of water resources, and our country is always exposed to drought. Due to the low efficiency of Iranian agriculture in terms of how to manage water resources, we will soon have a food supply crisis.”

About the devastating results of this situation, he added: “There are solutions that can be considered to overcome the current drought and used to get the country out of this crisis. Otherwise, we will face a crisis of increasing migration, unemployment, marginalization, and lack of food security. In fact, we should consider drought as the mother and cause of all social and economic harms.” (State-run website Gostaresh News, May 2, 2021)

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