Drought expected to persist during cold season

December 23, 2022 - 18:47

TEHRAN – No end to the drought is in sight over the cold season, according to a winter forecast by Ahad Vazifeh, head of the national center for drought and crisis management.

A temperature higher than the normal of the last 30 years is predicted, he said, ISNA reported on Friday.

Since the beginning of the current water year (September 23), the temperature was about 1.4 degrees Celsius above the normal or long-term average, he stated.

This year, low rainfall and large-scale weather patterns are very indicative of conditions similar to last year.

Many parts of the country have had low rainfall. Among these regions, Tehran, Alborz, Semnan, and the southern regions of Alborz such as Qazvin, as well as the western regions of the country including Kermanshah, Hamadan, and Ilam have received below-normal rainfall.

Rainfall in Tehran is about 70 percent below normal, and considering severe rainfall shortages in the last two years, the destructive effects of drought will be reflected even in drinking water in some provinces, he lamented.

There is a possibility that precipitation reaches better rates in the second half of winter and early spring than in the same period last year, he predicted.

In general, a rainy winter is not expected and the rainfall is likely to be less than normal, but the effects of drought in many parts of the country will be even stronger than last year, he warned.

One step to water crisis

Since ancient times, Iran has been constantly struggling with water shortage, which caused the creation of qanats, so people actually accepted that water is scarce in the country.

The average rainfall in the semi-arid country of Iran is 250 mm, which is one-third of the world average. Iran’s 53-year average rainfall was 250 mm, which has decreased to 232 mm in the last 13 years. Parallel to this decrease, the increasing trend of temperature caused an increase in evaporation and decrease in precipitations, and a sharp drop in the level of underground water resources and its limitation.

But for several years, along with the industrial and agricultural development, it seems that the available water resources have been used unbridled, and the result is being on the verge of a water crisis.

In fact, entering a water crisis is an index that is measured based on the amount of water available per cubic meter per person per year, according to this index, if a country has more than 1,700 cubic meters of water per person per year, there is no problem with water resources.

However, if this amount goes below 1,000 cubic meters per person per year, we will enter a water crisis from water stress.

The predictions of some international forums show that Iran will reach 500 cubic meters of water per capita in 2050, which will be disastrous. 

4.8m people at medium to high risk 

The Iranian Red Crescent Society estimates that 4.8 million people are at medium to high risk of drought-related impacts, mostly in remote and rural areas of the provinces.

It reports that 29 of 31 provinces, and especially seven – South Khorasan, Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan, Hormozgan, Khuzestan, Isfahan, and Khorasan Razavi – have been severely affected by the drought. The lack of safe and sufficient water supply for drinking, hygiene, agriculture, animal husbandry, and electrical power is having a devastating and increasingly unsustainable strain on households’ health, and income in addition to encouraging negative social trends and coping mechanisms.

Drought has so far incurred a loss of 28 trillion rials (about $107 million) to the environment, Hassan Akbari, deputy head of natural environment and biodiversity of the Department of Environment, said in May.

Unfortunately, over 70 percent of the country is suffering from severe drought. The severity of the drought is devastating in areas such as the Zagros, which is both a source of water and natural habitats, he lamented.