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Iran, UNESCO agree to establish centre for water management

TEHRAN, Nov 17 (AFP) - UNESCO has agreed to help Iran establish a water management centre after the Islamic republic's worst drought in decades, the official IRNA news agency said.

It cited Deputy Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian late Thursday saying the government had signed a deal for a "regional centre for urban water management" with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

"Given Iran's climatic conditions and a serious shortage of water resources, the country (will) face a water crisis," Ardakanian said. "The statistics are worrisome and the country will see appalling conditions."

He cautioned that current rates of water consumption would leave the nation "grappling with a water crisis in 25 years."

Energy Minister Habibollah Bitaraf said earlier this month that per capita water resources had fallen more than 75 percent in the previous 44 years, especially troubling given Iran's rising population.

Iran suffered its worst drought in 30 years this summer, and government estimates in October put the total damages at some 3.5 billion dollars, with the hardest hit areas in the southern, central and eastern provinces.

Rural residents were forced to migrate to urban centres as lakes, rivers and pasture were wiped out by the second straight summer of drought to plague the nation.

A UN fact-finding mission in July and August warned of a possible humanitarian catastrophe. Recent rains have helped the situtation, but with the ground table dried out, still more damage was caused by flooding.


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