Iran, Iraq ink MOU to deal with dust storms

July 15, 2022 - 16:36

TEHRAN – A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between Iran and Iraq with the aim of confronting the phenomenon of sand and dust storms (SDSs).

During a meeting in Tehran on Thursday, Iran’s Department of Environment Chief, Ali Salajeqeh and Iraqi Minister of Environment Jasim Abdulazeez Humadi signed the MOU.

The issue of dust storms has caused serious problems for Iranian citizens so it must be overcome through regional participation, Salajeqeh noted.

There are different methods and various expert opinions in the containing dust hotspots. Therefore, the best methods should be selected and implemented with the exchange of opinions of expert panels, he emphasized.

In the past years, we used petroleum mulches to stabilize the soil on the grounds generating dust, which of course caused environmental damage, but in recent years, with the help of Iranian scientists and knowledge-based companies, several environmentally friendly mulches have been prepared, he explained.

He further announced readiness to take the first operational steps using the experiences of the member countries.

Humadi also for his part announced to support all the decisions made in the meeting because it creates a suitable platform for joint cooperation, highlighting that the regional meeting of environment ministers showed the high importance of environmental issues for senior Iranian officials.

Dust storms and the phenomenon of desertification have harmful effects on the health of the people of the region, but these problems can be controlled through mutual interaction and cooperation, he further stated.

On July 12, Tehran played host to a conference of ministers and officials from 11 countries, aiming to boost cooperation for resolving extant environmental problems, especially sand and dust storms.

Environment ministers of Iraq, Armenia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Syria, and Qatar, as well as deputy ministers of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan along with delegations from Turkey and Uzbekistan, participated in the event which was held with the theme of “Environmental Cooperation for a Better Future.” 

President Ebrahim Raisi had earlier obliged the department of environment to diligently pursue the solution of sand and dust storms through diplomacy and international forums, as well as interaction with neighboring countries.

SDS effects

The SDSs phenomenon has been plaguing the country for several years and has caused problems in many provinces. According to experts, natural and human factors are involved in the occurrence and severity of this phenomenon which is mainly caused by excessive consumption of water and drying up reservoirs.

The internal dust sources are estimated at 34.6 million hectares, generating an average amount of 4.22 million tons of dust per year, about 1.460 million hectares are dried wetlands.

Some 4.23 million tons of dust are raised per year, which means the loss of soil fertility will hit the agricultural sector.

All the SDSs sources are not located in Iran, 300 million hectares in the neighboring countries are giving rise to SDSs, which transport dust into Iran. The total dust density is estimated at about 150 million tons.

In fact, the dust is raised from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in the northeast as well as Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan in the south, southwest, and west.

Letizia Rossano, the director of the Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM), said in June that Iran is really at forefront of understanding the problem of sand and dust storms as well as dealing with it.

More than 80 percent of the entire populations of Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and the Islamic Republic of Iran are exposed to medium and high levels of poor air quality due to sand and dust storms," she noted.

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