Dust storm from Iraq, Syria and Jordan hits western Iran

March 5, 2022 - 17:5

TEHRAN – A dense mass of sand and dust storms entered western Ilam province from the deserts of Iraq, Syria, and Jordan on Friday morning.

The concentration of fine dust was recorded as 50 times above the standard range in some cities of the province.

Due to the intensity of PM concentration, the schools in all educational levels in the southern cities of the province were held online on Saturday, IRIB reported.

Also, the activities of the offices in these areas started with a 2-hour delay. The concentration of dust canceled flights of Ilam Airport.

Ali Mohammad Tahmasebi, head of the national working group for SDSs mitigation, said that internal dust sources estimated at 34.6 million hectares, generate an average amount of 4.22 million tons of dust per year, of which 122.7 kilograms is raised per hectare annually.

Of this area, about 1.4 million hectares are from arid wetlands and about 2.5 to 3 million hectares are in habitats managed by the Department of Environment. Other areas are in agricultural lands, rangelands, and deserts, which is managed by the Forests, Rangelands, and Watershed Management Organization, he explained.

A 10-year national plan has also been drawn up to deal with internal SDS hotspots, in which the task of all related bodies is specified, he stated, IRNA reported.

The total dust density is estimated at about 150 million tons and 540 kg of specific dust per hectare, which is about 3 times more than the dust generated in the country.

$2.1 billion damage to 6 provinces

"We conducted a study for 6 provinces of Khuzestan, Ilam, Kermanshah, Sistan-Baluchestan, South Khorasan, and Hormozgan. Based on which, this phenomenon incurred a loss of about 590 trillion rials (nearly $2.1 billion) in a 3-year period," he stated.

The destruction has occurred in different sectors of agriculture, household, industry, health, etc. Studies show that about 54 percent of the total damage was related to various agricultural sub-sectors alone, he lamented, emphasizing, a proper plan can prevent such considerable harm.

€370 million to combat SDSs

In the past four years, about €370 million has been spent from the National Development Fund to combat SDSs, which had good results, but it seems that the annual credit is declining as conditions improve, he added.

Last [Iranian calendar] year (March 2019-March 2020), €100 million was earmarked in this regard, but the next year's budget bill has proposed €20 million for SDS mitigation, which experts believe will even destroy those measures, he explained.

“However, various measures have been taken to fight the phenomenon, including, planting seedlings on about 26,000 hectares of dust centers in the past three years, as well as managing grazing in 2 million hectares of the protected areas and natural resources.”

Conservation agriculture (sustainable agriculture) was conducted on 160,000 hectares of farming lands, in addition to 100,000 hectares of dredging, he concluded.

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