On September 6th, in a meeting in the presence of Dr. Kalantari, Head of the Urmia Lake Restoration Commission, Mr. Nakouzi, the FAO Representative in Iran, Mr. Kobayashi, the Ambassador of Japan and Prof. Tajrishi, an agreement between FAO and Urmia Lake Restoration Commission was signed in the office of Vice President for Research and Technology of Sharif University of Technology. This agreement will be pursued with a project entitled “Integrated Program for Sustainable Water Resources Management in the Urmia Lake Basin” by Sharif.
In the meeting, first Dr. Kalantari elaborated on the efforts for the restoration of the Urmia Lake in the last two years and the fact that with the increase in the amount of incoming water to the lake, the water line is now as high as 2012. The FAO representative, Mr. Nakouzi also elaborated on the efforts made by the Japanese government and their Embassy in Iran. He mentioned that this agreement would be a stepping stone for further collaborations between all parties. His Excellency, Mr. Kobayashi mentioned his recent trip to Urmia Lake and the depressing situation of the lake. The climate change and environmental issues are one of the most important issues for the Japanese government as discussed between the two presidents of the two countries. He also elaborated on the determination of the Japanese government to help restore the Urmia Lake. In this regard, they will provide a 3.8 million USD funding for the agreement between FAO and Urmia Lake Restoration Commission in a four-year period.
The signing ceremony then continued with Dr. Tajrishi mentioning the main points of the agreement as follows:
– An advanced water-accounting system for the entire Urmia Lake basin.
– A drought management system based on risk/vulnerability assessment and preparedness response for the Urmia Lake basin.
– A socio-economic livelihood programme with viable and sustainable alternatives to current agricultural activities upstream the lake to reduce significantly water consumption while maintaining proper level of communities income and livelihood.
– Integrated watershed management programme.
– A capacity development programme to strengthen stakeholders at different levels (e.g. farmers, grower or water-user associations, institutions, etc.) and with different responsibilities (e.g. water resource managers, environmentalists, agriculturalists, economists, etc.).
The project is in a studying phase and its outcomes will be presented to Iranian organizations to be implemented later on. There are many local and international partners to this agreement such as Tabriz University, Urmia University, Wageningen University, local organizations, and FAO experts. Decreasing water usage scenarios with managing the agriculture in the area, drought management and technology transfer are other parts of this agreement.