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10-08-2020 | Issue 11/2020

Water Resources Management 11/2020

International Environmental Conflict Management in Transboundary River Basins

Journal:
Water Resources Management > Issue 11/2020
Authors:
Ameneh Mianabadi, Kamran Davary, Hojjat Mianabadi, Poolad Karimi
Important notes

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11269-020-02576-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Abstract

Despite signing a bilateral water treaty in 1973, water utilization in the Hirmand River Basin (HRB) has been a source of dispute between Iran and Afghanistan for many decades. While Iran accuses Afghanistan of depriving it of the Hirmand water due to dam construction in the upper basin, Afghanistan assures that it enforces the treaty. An evident reduction of the Hirmand River flow to Iran in recent years is fully attributed by Afghanistan to a reduction in precipitation in the basin. Although Iran disagrees and remains unconvinced by this line of reasoning. A fundamental lack of trust in collected and shared hydrological data has hindered dialog between the two neighbors. To address this issue, this study investigates the use of remote sensing information, as an independent source of data, for fact-finding in a highly disputed transboundary river basin. For this purpose, historical data (34 years) from two satellite precipitation products, PERSIANN-CDR and CHIRPS, were used to understand if precipitation characteristics and, subsequently, rainfall-runoff regimes have changed in the HRB. Results reveal that the frequency and amount of heavy precipitation have been increasing over the mountainous areas. The total amount of precipitation has been increasing significantly. The intensity of heavy precipitation, however, has been decreasing over the basin. In the upper basin, the duration of the wet period has increased, although the share of wet months in annual precipitation has been decreasing. In the lower basin, trends in seasonal and annual precipitation and most of the indices are insignificant, indicating water availability issues cannot be attributed to the changes in precipitation in the downstream area itself. These results can be used as an integral part of mutual fact-finding and trust-building exercise that supports water diplomacy to promote environmental cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan.

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