The visit began on Tuesday, December 30, with the presence of the UNDP Resident Representative, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the I.R. of Iran, the Second Secretary of the Republic of Korea Embassy, UNDP representatives in Iran, Sistan Project partners, and a group of provincial officials in Zahedan. The team visited Hamoun International Wetlands and its residents on December 31. The visit aimed to examine the barriers to development in the region, the impact of climate change and sandstorms on people’s lives, visit cultural heritage sites, get acquainted with handicrafts, and discuss the potential for cooperation in the region.
The first point of the visit was the Sarani Takhtak, located in the middle of the dried-up Hamoun wetlands. Sarani Takhtak residents are engaged in animal husbandry. The Sistan project recently provided water tankers, solar panels, and sanitary products to promote resilience. The visiting team was warmly welcomed by the people of Takhtak and the governor of Nimrouz. They then listened to their words and demands. The Takhtak residents introduced and presented their handmade dairy products to the visitors, including local yogurt drinks, butter, dried whey, and Sistani handmade carpets.
Then, Adimi village of Nimrouz city and fishers who turned to weave during the dry seasons of the wetland was visited. The inhabitants of Adimi live life by weaving fabrics and mats, although presence in local and national markets was one of the concerns of these villagers.
Visitors then visited the eco-tourism resort in the village of Adimi, where women displayed their handicrafts, including embroidery.
The visit continued with a short stay in Zabul and then a stop in the Shahr-e-Sukhteh. Shahr-e-Sukhteh, one of the area’s landmarks, is the 5,000-year-old remnants of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to visiting the remains of the Shahr-e-Sukhteh, visitors were introduced to its history and discoveries.
On the return to Zahedan, a meeting was held in Sistan and Baluchestan governor’s office, where the governor-general of the province and other key stakeholders attended.
In this meeting, Pourmardan, Director General of Sistan and Baluchestan Department of Environment, pointed to the geographical location and environmental problems of the region and stressed that the protection and restoration of the ecosystem of Hamoun International Wetlands indirectly affect people’s livelihoods and provide alternative livelihoods for people in the area helps protect the wetland. He also referred to the control of dust centers and the prevention of indigenous migration and expressed hope that the visit, which was formed with an investment perspective in the region, would lead to executive measures in the area.
Providas, UNDP Resident Representative in Iran, said that there has always been an emphasis on Sistan and Baluchestan province and the phenomenon of dust through meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since two years ago. We are eager to fight against the sand and dust phenomenon because it is a regional issue. At the 26th Climate Change Conference, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Asia began his speech with a video of Iran’s efforts to increase energy efficiency. The United Nations Development Programme’s approach has always been inclusive growth and sustainable development. We are not looking for small projects and short-term solutions but an in-depth understanding of the issues and conducting basic studies to minimize damage to the region.
He continued, “We have had successful development projects in Iran.” In energy efficiency, we worked on 600 buildings, which created a 25% increase in energy efficiency and 1,000 direct jobs. The Lake Urmia project reduced water consumption with alternative livelihoods and decreased water-related jobs by 30%.
Instead of small projects, he suggested that we work with the province to prepare a document that can identify priorities based on the relationship between departments and benefits.
H.E. Yun Kanghyeon, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Iran, said the complexity and severity of the region’s problems were so great that no independent body could solve them, and concerted action was needed to address them. He added on his return to Tehran, he will surely raise these issues with other ambassadors so that they can help each other find a solution to help this region.
Modarres Khiabani, the governor-general of Sistan and Baluchestan, said Iran was grappling with four issues: sanctions, the pandemic, unstable drought, and drugs on neighboring borders. The drought damage in our province has been tens of billions of dollars and has destroyed many jobs. Sistan and Baluchestan province ranks first in the solar energy atlas and second in the country’s wind tunnel, which means it is an excellent opportunity to start wind and solar power plants. It is invaluable that the UNDP, together with the government of Iran, is working to empower our people. He called on his colleagues in the province to cooperate fully in implementing the UNDP and Sistan and Baluchestan Department of Environment plans.