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Dr. Narges Zohrabi
Head of Iran Regional Node
Mob: 0098-9163071189

Country Profile:

Iran is an arid and drought prone country with increasing vulnerability to this natural hazard. As a result of previous droughts and overexploitation of available water resources, the per capita water availability has been reduced from 7000 m3/year 50 years ago when the population was 19 million to 1910 m3/year today with 70 million inhabitants. Given the population growth rate, further reduction is projected and the per capita water availability will be around 1400 m3/year by 2025.

Present status and National Water Management Strategy

Presently, an area of 8.84 Mha in Iran is irrigated while 9.66 Mha is rainfed. The agricultural land availability is not a constraint in the development of irrigated agriculture. The major constraint is the availability of water for development of these lands. The irrigable land is estimated at more than 12 Mha.

According to Ministry of Agriculture statistics, nearly 600,000 ha of land suffers from irrigation induced salinity and waterlogging, of which only 100,000 ha has had drainage systems incorporated or being implemented. Presently, about 7.62 km3 of unused regulated water exists in the country (Ghodratnema, 1999).

Some of the elements in the existing structural realities of water use in Iran are the following :

1.Fragmentation of responsibility among different governmental agencies.

2.Legislation for defining water rights is ambiguous and not comprehensive.

3.Poor Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of irrigation and drainage networks. Decentralization and transfer of water use rights and O&M responsibility to communities and users has the potential to increase efficiency, improve services and raise fee collection.

4.Enormous subsidies in water charges. Heavy subsidies have counteracted incentives to grow water-efficient crops, in terms of income per volume of water required.

5.Low irrigation efficiency (average over-all efficiency 32%).

6.Lack of Water Users Associations in agricultural sector.

7.Lack of infrastructure for water delivery

8.Land ownership and distribution are dispersed

9.Inadequate training of water consumers

10.Degradation of land and water is considerable

In figure 1 the organizational structure of water research of Iran in general and irrigation and drainage in specific, are shown.

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Organizational structure of water research (specifically on Irrig. and Drain. Research) in Iran (the highlighted ones)

International entities active in Iran, which directly related to irrigation and drainage research, are rare. However there are some international entities which have permanent office in Iran and work in the areas of executive projects and/or research project in the fields of water or crop production issues or both and in cooperation with different national organizations as below:

  • International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
  • International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
  • UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO )
  • Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
  • International Water Management Institute (IWMI)(2005-2007)