Governor of Sistan & Baluchestan: Drought Is Worse Than Earthquake Here
By Mohammad Sadat Khansari
According to the governor of Sistan & Baluchestan, the drought in this province is worse than earthquake, because “it receives much less attention”.
Ahmad Ali Mohebati states (ISNA; January 10, 2019) that: “earthquake is always followed by improvements and new developments here; whereas drought only brings about disastrous consequences”.
Almost all regions of Iran are currently facing water shortage and drought to varying degrees; which is even worse in areas like Sistan & Baluchestan (which contains more than 11% of Iran’s entire surface area).
According to Mohebati, more than 3000 villages lack water pipes, and water is physically delivered to around 1275 of them. He emphasises that if the issue of water shortage is not dealt with effectively, it will result in the reduction of water supplies in Zahedan as well”.
Disproportion of the annual budget
While referring to the vastness of Sistan & Baluchestan and the fact that 3.4% of Iran’s population live in this province, Mohebati reveals that no more than 0.8% of the annual budget is dedicated to this region. Adding that “a big portion of this insignificant budget is also spent on national and international projects, so people don’t really receive much of this share”.
Sistan & Baluchestan is one of the most deprived areas, as evident in other issues besides just water shortage, such as unemployment or weak building infrastructures.
According to Mohebati, more than 3000 children are currently enrolled as students with no schools to attend in the first place. Plus, many schools lack the most basic facilities too.
Just a few weeks ago, at least 4 students lost their lives in a fire incident (at a kindergarten/primary school); the cause of which was the dangerous use of oil burning heaters.
“Critical conditions soon leading to a public disaster”
In last Wednesday’s gathering (regarding water management in Iran’s eastern regions) which was held in Razavi Khorasan province (by the chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture), Mohebati labelled the current conditions as “critical and disastrous”.
According to IRNA, Mohammad Hossein Shariatmadar (who’s the head of the National Center of Strategic Studies of Agriculture and Water at Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture; also referred to as ICCIMA), issued a warning regarding water shortage, saying that: “we are only 5 years away from the peak of this crisis, which all stems from our negligence for the past 50 years”; adding that the restoration of Iran’s water resources are nearly impossible because “we still lack the right determination, as well as an effective leadership”.
Like most other countries of the region, Iran has also been struggling with drought, reduced rainfall, and climate change, for quite some time now. Which government officials link to mismanagement and ineffective policies.
In May 2018, the Vice President and current Head of Department of Environment said that in his opinion, “Unilateralism” is the main cause of the water shortage which 70% of Iran’s population are currently suffering from.
Many experts believe that the excessive building of dams, inattention to optimal water use in agriculture, excessive use of renewable water resources, land subsidence, and drying of lakes, would all lead to destructive consequences and subsequently, even more suffering for people.