Hydropolitics of Iran; The Geography of Water Crisis in the Horizon of 2025

Document Type : Original Article


- Assistant Professor of Political Geography, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran


Increasing in water consumption and creating limitation in fresh water resources of the world have caused bring water among competition of various groups and countries. Today water has a major role in forming of socio- political relations of social groups. In the twenty-first century, water scarcity threatens the livelihoods of many people in different countries, in particular, in arid regions. Issues like increase in water demand, change consumption patterns, pollution, demolish natural resources and desertification have shifted humankind to the global water crisis. Indeed, some believe that future wars and civil violence will occur mainly due to lack of water and food. Even, by considering the challenges that governments will be faced, UN Commission on Sustainable Development says: "The world water crisis is not a crisis of water scarcity, but a crisis of governance. In 1995, the World Bank vice president announced, "future wars will be over water, not oil."
Branch of political geography that studies the role of water in political behaviors at different scales is called Hydropolitics. Iran as one of the arid and semi arid countries in the Middle East has faced with water crisis. In coming decades, this matter will be one of the main limiting factors of development and will create some problems and difficulties to country.
The research methodology adopted is descriptive- analytic and data gathering procedure is library findings and data are analyzed using statistical methods of uni-variation analysis like mean, percentage and per capita. In addition, Excel software is used to data analysis and ARC GIS software is used to spatial displaying of data.
Results and discussion
The main source of water is rainfall. Limitation in rainfall in Iran that is nearly one-third of the world average has caused water scarcity. In addition, mathematical location, topography and country area cause issues like inappropriate temporal and spatial distribution of rainfall and severe evaporation of rainfall. In addition, the annual fluctuation in rainfall, which sometimes decreases in one third in comparing with the previous year, has intensified the uncertainty of water resources. From about 404 billion cubic meters of annual rainfall in the country, only 137.5 billion cubic meters is renewable and available, that this amount has been distributed inappropriately and this issue is the main cause of water shortage or water sufficiency, and it is outside of human control. Another effective factor in the water shortage that is in the control of human is the distribution of population that sometimes high concentration of people in the geographical spaces causes limitation of resources in that geographical space and water resources are not exempt from this matter. According to research findings, in 11 provinces percentage of having renewable water of country is lower than percentage of having country population, that it is one of the causes of the water crisis. For example, despite Tehran province has 19.4 percent of the population of the country, but has 1.3 percent of the country renewable water resources and this has caused a severe water crisis in this province.
Research findings show that the population growth and the constantly increase in per capita water consumption in the country, now it is 1,800 cubic meters approaching to "critical threshold" (less than 1,700 cubic meters). Currently, 11 provinces have placed in lower stage than the threshold and in 2025 renewable water per capita for the country will decrease in 1530 cubic meters and 13 provinces will have water crisis. In this situation, Tehran with 100 cubic meters per capita will have the worst situation.


Volume 9, Issue 31
September 2013
Pages 49-83
  • Receive Date: 02 March 2013
  • Revise Date: 23 April 2013
  • Accept Date: 28 May 2013
  • First Publish Date: 23 September 2013