BBC Monitoring Service
Jun 15, 2001
Text of report entitled: "Drought in Khorasan: People Are Deserting the Villages" published by Iranian newspaper Ava-ye Birjand on 16 May
Although drought is not a new phenomenon in the large province of Khorasan, part of which is desert, its effects on the drinking water of the religious city of Mashhad are a serious warning of a coming crisis.
According to officials, subterranean water resources have decreased by 1.1 billion cubic meters every year during the continuous drought in recent years. The estimated damage is 2,360 billion rials, but only 10 billion rials have been allocated for compensation for drought damage in this province. According to the Interior Ministry, Khorasan is one of 14 provinces facing drought this year.
Because of the continuation of the drought, some of the villages have been deserted, and the villagers have given up their animals and farms, and taken refuge in the cities.
According to a report by IRNA, Mohammad Maqduri, the Khorasan governor general's coordinating deputy for development affairs, said the damage caused to the different parts of the province by drought has been estimated at 2,360 billion rials. He added: "Ten billion rials' worth of facilities have been earmarked for compensating for drought damage in the province."
Studies show that the drought has mainly damaged the southern parts of the province in recent years. Vahid Barakchi, the secretary for the Natural Disasters Headquarters, said: "The cities of Birjand, Qa'en, Ferdows, and Nehbandan are facing a lack or shortage of drinking water because of the drought." He mentioned that 696 villages are facing water problems. The aquaculture manager of Khorasan's Agriculture Jihad Organization also said: "Of the 4.5 billion cubic meters of flowing water in Khorasan Province, 1.5 billion cubic meters go to the desert, and out of the country." According to studies, rainfall in the first half of the current year has decreased 30.5 per cent compared with the 10-year average. It has also been said that the reservoirs in Kardeh, Shahid Yaghubi, and Toroq have decreased by more than 112.5 million cubic meters because of the drought.
Experts have suggested different solutions for confronting drought. These include harnessing surface water, implementing aquaculture projects, using new irrigation systems in agriculture, expediting the building of dams currently under construction, preventing wastage of water in the urban water networks, and implementing public training.
Studies show that in regions where water preservation and flood diffusion projects have been executed, the distressed subterranean water resources have been improved.