May 28, 2024

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SDSs from Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia may enter Iran

TEHRAN – Ahad Vazifeh, head of the national center for drought and crisis management, has said new sources of sand and dust storms, originating from Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia may enter Iran.

Unfortunately, precipitations in Iraq and Syria have not been sufficient. So, most of Iran’s sand and dust storms originate from Iraq and Syria, he added, ISNA reported.

The sand and dust storms often originate from the eastern regions of Syria, and the western and central to southern regions of Iraq and are transported to Iran, he explained.

In addition to these areas, winds from south to north may lead to the transfer of sand and dust storms from Saudi Arabia to Iran, he noted.

The SDS 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.

In August 2022, Department of Environment Chief Ali Salajeqeh said to deal with sand and dust storms, positive measures have been taken inside the country.

A ten-year plan has been prepared to curb internal sources of sand and dust storms, he added.

Based on the plan, the relevant institutions are performing their tasks to curb SDS effects, he stated, adding that the Natural Resources and Watershed Management Organization should have the first role in the plan, and the Planning and Budget Organization should also stand by the work.

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.

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

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.

An international conference on combating sand and dust storms will be held in Iran.

Based on the successful experiences of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of combating sand and dust storms, the United Nations introduced Iran as the host of the international meeting, IRIB reported.

Arrangements have been made with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in July next year, this meeting will be held in Tehran with the presence of the environment ministers of the world countries. 

In the field of diplomacy, the Department of Environment has held meetings with neighboring countries to the extent that Egypt has also announced its readiness to attend the Tehran meeting.

A delegation from Iran will travel to Iraq in the near future to discuss the issue of sand and dust storms in order to make decisions to deal with the problem.

In July 2022, 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.” 

Addressing the opening ceremony, President Ebrahim Raisi emphasized that the preservation of the environment is essential and an inevitable priority.

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.

“Conservation of the ecosystem and environment, which is a global concern, especially for countries of the region, is an inevitable priority today. If the environment is not safe and peaceful for people, the development will not be in its proper place and it will even become a threat to human health,” Raisi stated.

The SDS phenomenon has been plaguing the country for several years and has caused problems in many provinces. 

According to studies, eight large sand and dust storm hotspots stretching to 270 million hectares in neighboring and Persian Gulf countries are affecting Iran.

Regional maps show that Saudi Arabia produces the highest level of particulate matter, followed by Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, and the UAE, respectively.


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