International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

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Traditional and Modern Practices of Water Resource Management
for Mitigating Drought in Southeastern Iran

Seyed Mahmood Hosseini

Head, Department of Agricultural Extension and Education
College of Agriculture, University of Tehran, - Karaj, Iran



Southeastern parts of Iran, including the provinces of Sistan-Baluchistan, Kerman and Southern Khorasan have been severely affected by drought during last eight years. A combined qualitative and quantitative research project was conducted to study and analyze the traditional/ indigenous and modern approaches, procedures, techniques and practices of water resource management for mitigating drought in these provinces. The specific objectives of the study were:1) To investigate the mechanisms by which the drought affected the region as related to economic, environmental, social and psychological dimensions; 2)To investigate  the causes of vulnerability of various farming systems regarding hydrological, agricultural, metrological, and socio-economic drought; and 3) To investigate the traditional  and modern practices of water resource and drought management in order to determine the applicability and effectiveness of each  identified procedure/practice and to establish the extent to which each of them has received attention in governmental water resource and drought management policies and programs during the eight years of drought period. A combined qualitative- quantitative research methodology employing multi-phased technique was used to conduct the study. The two- phase qualitative phase was carried out in severely drought-effected Jiroft and Kahnouj districts, in southern Kerman during September to February 2005 while research team resided in the area. The population in this part of the research included various groups of nomads, small and large farmers, agribusinesses, agricultural cooperatives using a variety of traditional and modern water resource systems; also experts and managers of governmental organizations working on drought management. The sample was chosen using purposive, snowball, unique, and accessible qualitative sampling techniques. Data collection methods included participatory observation, in-depth interviews and RRA. The qualitative findings indicated that the following were the main consequences of drought: Twelve environmental effects; sixteen economical damages; and twenty-two socio-psychological upshots. The results also showed that climatic, agricultural, hydrological, and socio-economical causes of drought were 8, 12, 25, and 12 factors respectively. In the light of solutions to drought, 14 managerial, 10 systemic, 13 research, 15 water management, 18 socio-economical, 6 extension, 9 indigenous knowledge, 11 participatory, and 9 agricultural management procedures were identified to prevent or struggle with the problem. The quantitative phase was conducted using a questionnaire to gather data from a sample encompassing 219 experts and mangers which was chosen employing the simple sampling technique. Finally 211 questionnaires were returned. The quantitative result showed that while most of the drought solutions identified through the qualitative phase were ranked as applicable and effective by the respondents, they had been ignored by the authorities while dealing with the drought. This research applied a triangular approach to suggest the appropriate solutions to the drought crisis and to increase the validity and transferability of the results. This triangulation consisted of the survey results, the qualitative phase outcomes, and the analysis of the documents related to the drought management. Therefore, the solutions suggested by this research, are applicable and that there is a convergence among and between them. Finally, a systemic, multi-dimensional, participatory, holistic, and stakeholder-centered perspective is strongly needed to make any decisions concerning the prevention and alleviation of drought.