97% of Iran affected by long-term drought: expert

February 1, 2019

TEHRAN — Based on the dada collected over the past decade approximately 97 percent of the country is affected by long-term drought, director of the national drought warning and monitoring center, Sadeq Ziaeian, has said.

Some 12.7 percent of the country is hit by extremely severe drought, 53.6 percent of the country is affected by severe drought while 24.8 percent of the country is facing moderate drought and 5.9 percent of the country is withstanding mild drought, ISNA news agency quoted Ziaeian as saying on Wednesday. 

He went on to say that extremely severe long-term drought has had negative effects on 14.2 percent of the country’s total population, severe long-term drought has hit 47 percent of the country’s population, 30.7 percent of the country’s population is affected by moderate long-term drought and 5.1 percent of the population is stricken with mild drought. 

Over a one year period ending on January 20 nearly 72 .2 percent of the country’s total population have been negatively affected by drought, he said, adding that 22.7 percent of the country’s population is struggling with mild drought, 17.7 percent of the population is affected by moderate drought, 13 percent of the population is stricken with severe drought and 28.7 percent of the population is hit by extremely severe drought. 

In the same period 19 percent of the country is affected by extremely severe drought, 10.5 percent is facing severe drought, 23.3 percent is suffering moderate drought and 20.9 percent is experiencing mild drought, he highlighted.    

Iman Babaeian, caretaker director of the Climatological Research Institute, also told ISNA that over the coming months the country will receive normal precipitations, however, regarding climate change in long-term precipitation amounts will drop, so that national plans to provide the country with sustainable water resources and taking measures to adopt to water scarcity specially in southeastern regions of the country is a must. 

In a recent report released by Majlis [Iranian parliament] research center on January 1 it is predicted that by the [Iranian calendar] year 1400 (March 2021-March 2022) more than 50 million Iranians, nearly 80 percent of the country’s total population, will be affected by water shortages for drinking purposes.

The report stated that over the summer, due to decreased rainfalls and snowfalls in the past water year (September 2017-September 2018), some 36.8 million people constituting 46 percent of the country’s total population had problems accessing drinking water.

Such challenges, the report warns, would contribute to social unrest which may become a security issue.

The data released on Friday by the National Drought Warning and Monitoring Center stated that the whole country received 130 millimeters of rain since the beginning of autumn which almost triples last year’s precipitation and also indicate a 23-millimeter increase compared to long-term averages.

Despite the increase it is projected that dry spells are awaiting the country due to the adverse effects of the climate change in the near future. 

MQ/MG

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