EghtesadOnline: Iran's sovereign-wealth fund has approved the investment of 196 trillion rials ($4.6 billion) for water and agriculture ventures in the current fiscal year (started March 21).
The latest report published by the National Development Fund of Iran indicates that of the total parliamentary allocation of $13 billion in the current fiscal year for water and agriculture sectors through the fund, over $4.6 billion have so far been allocated to such ventures, IRNA reported.
To break down the amount allocated by the parliament, $8 billion pertain to organizing water resources, $1.5 billion for developing farmlands in the southern and western provinces of Khuzestan and Ilam, $500 million for water supply in Sistan-Baluchestan Province, $500 million for pressurized irrigation plans and $500 million for rural water supply.
The significant move is aimed at protecting water resources and developing modern agriculture to tackle problems facing the country due to the unprecedented drought that has hit the country, according to Financial Tribune.
Iran has been struggling with water shortage for years, as it is located in a semi-arid region.
Rainfalls were worse than what we expected, such that the country has had the lowest rate of precipitation in the past 50 years.
Data from Iran Water Resources Management Company, a subsidiary of the Energy Ministry, show that since the beginning of the current water year (Sept. 23, 2017), the country has received 167 millimeters of precipitation, which indicates a drastic 30.7% fall compared to the same period of last year.
--- Rural Projects
This is not the government's only move to tackle the persisting problem.
In the wake of the severe drought that has affected 334 cities with a combined population of 37 million over the past two years, the administration has also allocated $237 million to undertake 195 water projects in small towns and villages.
The plan includes laying water pipelines, upgrading wastewater facilities and digging new wells in underprivileged areas of Kerman, Khorasan Razavi, Hormozgan and Sistan-Baluchestan provinces.
The plan also involves improving the quality of drinking water in 57 towns at a cost of $18 million.
Providing 6,000 villages with potable water at an estimated cost of $46 million is also on the government agenda.
The rest of the budget will be used to complete 40 pending projects to help alleviate water shortage in 59 towns.
According to data by the Geological Survey & Mineral Explorations of Iran, some 37 million Iranians are living in water-stressed regions.
Iran suffers from low rainfall, excessive consumption and high levels of water loss because of aging infrastructure and outdated irrigation methods.
--- Water in Dams
The water levels in dams across the country have plunged to new lows.
According to ILNA, there are 177 dams, of which 78 are hardly 40% full.
Currently, water stored in dams amount to 24.59 billion cubic meters, indicating a 16% decrease from this time last year.
Officials have warned against injudicious water consumption that has added insult to injury during the summer.
The city of Tehran, along with other major cities such as Isfahan and Tabriz, has some of the highest per capita water consumption rate. This has made the authorities initiate water rationing during the current hot days.
According to Shahin Pakrouh, a deputy at the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company, household potable water consumption per capita amounts to 150 liters per day, adding that if the consumption reduces by 20%, water rationing will not be undertaken in these metropolises to contain the water crisis.