Government of Japan grants US$ 1 million in support of restoration of Lake Uromiyeh

18 Mar 2014

  


Lake Uromiyeh is located in Northwest of Iran

The Government of Japan has provided a grant of one million dollars, to aid in the restoration of Lake Uromiyeh. This grant has been provided to UNDP.

The lake, one of the largest salt-water bodies in the world, has been shrinking at an alarming rate.

In the past two decades, the surface area of the lake has shrunk from 5,000 square kilometers to 2,000 square kilometers.  This shrinkage, 40 per cent of the original size, masks a greater loss in actual water volume because the average depth of water when the lake covered 5,000 square kilometers was 6 meters.  Now, for the 2,000 square kilometers covered by water, that average depth is only 1 meter.

The grant will be implemented as a new component of the ongoing Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project which is a UNDP project in partnership with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Department of Environment.


Satellite images of lake Uromiyeh which depicts a decline in water levels between 1997-2011

The generous contribution will fund a new component of the project:  “Contribution to restoration of Lake Uromiyeh by modeling local community engagement in sustainable agriculture practices and critical biodiversity conservation.”  The work to be done under this component will mainly demonstrate sustainable agriculture practices in the framework of Integrated Pest and Crop Management leading to more efficient use of water which eventually will contribute to the restoration of the Lake.

The project is planned for completion in February 2015.  Within this timeframe, the new component project will aim to achieve three objectives:

  1. Introduce sustainable agriculture practices to 40 villages in Lake Uromiyeh’s basin which will result in a water-saving of at least 35%.
  2. Raise local community awareness and an understanding of their important role in using sustainable agricultural techniques and in restoring Lake Uromiyeh.
  3. Review water-harvesting options and have at least one pilot in three key islands of Lake Uromiyeh.  This will contribute to ensuring a sustainable water supply for conserving biodiversity.

From left to right: Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Photo credit: Press TV

According to Gary Lewis, UNDP Resident Representative, “Water is our biggest resource constraint in Iran.  I would also argue that it is our greatest long-term risk.  But there are solutions – like what we are working with the Government to implement in Uromiyeh.  These approaches can show us the way forward for many of Iran’s other water problems.”

Lewis added: “This new Uromiyeh initiative does four things right.  First, we are involving all interest groups in planning resource allocations.  Second, we are trying to forge an understanding that we must stop treating water as an open resource.  Third, we are better conserving and protecting both our ground water and our surface water.  Fourth, we are applying better technology to make water use more efficient.”

This grant is made as a result of the meeting between President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe in New York, last September, followed by the meetings between Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran, last November and in Tokyo, this March.  In each occasion they exchanged their views on co-operation on environmental issues.

Japan is one of UNDP’s top 5 donors in the world globally.