Sustainable livelihoods and saving the lake urmia in iran

02 oct 2018

Water shortages normally leads to water allocation rivalry and natural ecosystems -  initially wetlands - usually suffer when in competition with development. Lake Urmia (LU) is a vast hyper-saline wetland NW of Iran. The Lake is a National Park, Ramsar Site, UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and is the largest inland lake in Iran. The lake has several functions supporting local communities' livelihoods to settle in the surrounding areas.

There are more than 5 million inhabitants living in the basin and the impact of the drying lake will have tremendous repercussions on their daily livelihoods. Currently the agriculture sector consumes more than 87% of the entire basin's water use with a rather low efficiency rate. Hence, there is a good scope for water saving in the area releasing more water discharge to the lake. This is also considered as the most critical step and can lead to revival of LU itself. Hence this formed the core activity of the special project "Contribution to Lake Urmia Restoration via local community participation in sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation" under CIWP supported by a grant from Japan in 2014 and continued in 2015 of US $ 1 million each year. Under these grants 75 villages in Lake Urmia basin are targeted to implement Sustainable Agriculture Techniques.

While taking into account the sustainable livelihood for local communities in the basin the project attempts to secure the LU water right in a long-term plan. Therefore, modelling local community participation in LU restoration is the core objective of the project. In its course of implementation, the project has provided employment for more than 200 local experts under work contracts and MoM with 29 implementing partners (7 National and 22 Local) as well as 12 NGOs (1 National and 11 Local). Besides, the project has brought hope for more than 10,000 farmers to continue farming while saving the resources for the future generation.