According to the 2012 report by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, disasters are occurring with greater frequency and severity than ever before. Between 1992 and 2012 disasters affected over 4.4 billion people, causing 1.3 million deaths, and resulted in over $2 trillion in economic losses.
Floods and damage caused by this natural phenomenon have increased due to factors such as increasing population, climate change and economic and residential development.
To enhance flood management and engineering knowledge, a group of Iranian experts gathered at the Second National Conference on Flood Management and Engineering in Tehran on 30 September. This was an opportunity to exchange best practices in flood management and review areas that need improvement.
Speaking at the conference, Deputy-Minister of Interior and Head of National Disaster Management Organization, Mr. Esmaeel Najjar highlighted climate change as a global issue and called for scientific and efficient management of flooded waters. However, referring to Bakhtegan and Hamoun wetlands, he underlined that Iran is now facing sever water scarcity. Mr. Najjar added: “We need to take serious steps to overcome these challenges through coordinated efforts of the competent organizations.”
Deputy-Minister of Interior and Head of National Disaster Management Organization, Mr. Esmaeel Najjar (Right) and Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Islamic Republic of Iran (Left)
Also speaking at the conference was Dr. Parviz Garshasbi, Deputy of Forest, Range and Watershed Organization. He highlighted the budget spent for flood recovery in the damaged areas, and said “With one-third of this budget, we can enhance our capacity in taking preventive measures for flood anticipation and management. This way not only the cost, but also the casualties would be reduced.”
Mr. Gary Lewis, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative was also invited to speak at the event. In his opening remarks Mr. Lewis said: “According to climate change projections, the Middle East – and Iran specifically – will face a hotter, drier future. A warmer climate change will increase the risk of flooding. If global Carbon emissions continue at the current level, we calculate that around three percent of the world’s population will be placed at risk of flooding.”
Mr. Lewis added: “This is a project which replants small shrubs into the rangelands of many provinces in Iran and by binding the soil together it reduces the risk of the consequences of flash flooding. This project – right now – is being replicated in hundreds of thousands of acres across more than half of the provinces of Iran. It involves communities and government leadership. And its main objective is to restore sustainable livelihoods to the communities of these rangelands.”
He concluded his remarks by saying: “just as the United Nations is supporting to make the rangelands and the deserts green once more in partnership with FRWO, and just as the United Nations is working with the Government and the people of Lake Urmia to restore the lake over the next ten to twenty years, we would like to put at the disposal of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran the limited resources that we have to try to do something to reverse the problem of many of these other effected areas – including the Hamouns.”
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