عنوان مقاله [English]
The rapid decrease in the water level of Urmia Lake in recent years has affected the economic and social situation of the residents around it. Destruction of settlements, recreational and residential complexes, decrease in tourist arrivals, and decrease in income of the region from the tourism industry are examples of these issues and challenges in the region. Therefore, it seems necessary to analyze the effects of this environmental crisis, especially on the settlements and employment systems of the region. Ignoring this issue may cause vast and irreparable side effects, which will alarm the health and livelihood of the region's people. In this regard, depending on whether the past trends continue, stop or even improve, different futures can be predicted for the next twenty years of the region. Therefore, in this research, it has been tried to rely on the approach of future research and developing scenarios that forecast economic and social damages that are likely to occur in the region in the next twenty years. Also, we recommend strategies, policies, and actions appropriate to each of the scenarios that have been presented to improve the planning process.
Materials and Methods
This paper has a quantitative and applied methodology. In terms of method and nature, this research is exploratory analytical research. Data gathering has been done using documentary methods with the tools of existing databases and data collection with the tool of questionnaires. The sampling method is non-random and targeted. To survey the experts’ opinions, 19 people from three groups of university professors, managers of organizations, and graduate students who had expertise and experiences with the research topic were selected. The approach of this research is future study. The Delphi method was used in the present research to obtain experts’ opinions and identify uncertainties. Then, the scenario writing method, with the help of Scenario Wizard software, was used to extract possible scenarios of the research subject. Finally, the DPSIR technique presented the proposed strategies, policies, and action plans.
After examining and reviewing the available literature, 28 variables affecting settlement and employment in the Urmia Lake catchment area were identified. After screening these variables with the Delphi method in two stages, four main research variables were extracted under the title of critical uncertainties. These uncertainties, including dam construction, unemployment rate, poverty and inequality, and the sense of personal and social security, were entered into the Scenario Wizard software in three favorable, static, and critical situations. In addition, after the scoring stage by experts, in total, 12 scenarios, including two probable scenarios, six possible scenarios, and three consistent scenarios (compatible), were obtained as software outputs. In the first consistent scenario, all variables are in a stationary state. In the second compatible scenario, all the variables are in a static state, except the variable of personal and social security, which is in a critical situation. In the third compatible scenario, the variables of dam building and unemployment rate are in a static state, and the variables of the level of poverty and inequality and the feeling of personal and social security are in a critical state. After this stage, in line with planning based on these scenarios, using the DPSIR technique, the main strategies of intelligent water and soil management, strengthening the institutional framework, making rural communities resilient, focusing on vulnerable and sensitive groups, local economic development and rural development and also related policies and action plans were proposed according to each of the scenarios.
The current research has been looking at how the reduction of the water level of Urmia Lake will affect the region in the next 20 years and planning in the form of scenarios. By examining the background of the current research, we can reach a consensus: that all the researchers say that the Urmia Lake crisis has caused damage in various economic, social, political, environmental, and other dimensions. It can also be said that despite the results of most of the reviewed research, which was based on interviews on the scale of villages, this research is based on variables taken from previous related research on the scale of a region with the help of The Delphi method and the use of experts' opinions and scenario planning. Based on the investigations conducted among various types of research, the use of this method was not observed in the subject of the research. In describing the compatible scenarios of the lake catchment area, it can be stated that in compatible scenario number 1 (static situation), the construction of dams in the Urmia Lake basin has been stopped, and there has been no change in the unemployment rate, the level of poverty and inequality, and the sense of personal and social security in the region. Officials and managers have decided not to continue the dam building process in the region and to stop the dam construction projects. Due to the decrease in the water level of the lake that this phenomenon has continued in the last few years and following, the destruction of resorts, residences, and recreational complexes and in general, the stagnation of the tourism potential of the region, the jobs of those natives who are dependent on lake tourism has not changed much. With the decrease in soil fertility and quality, no progress can be seen in the region’s agricultural sector, and no improvement in the amount of crop production has been achieved. This situation has caused a change in people’s personal and social security. In such a situation, to return to the population who were forced to migrate due to the loss of their jobs, it is possible to invest in the cultural, historical, and natural parts of the villages in the surrounding areas through alternative crops compatible with the new water and soil conditions. Incompatible scenario number 2 (critical situation), the construction of dams in the Urmia Lake basin has been stopped; the unemployment rate and the level of poverty and inequality in the region are stable, but the feeling of personal and social security has decreased. The managers' decisions to stop dam construction have prevented excessive damage to the lake. However, the drying up of the lake has led to the weakening of the community in the surrounding areas and the reduction of the feeling of personal and social security in society. There is also a possibility of a further decrease in the population, especially in the villages. In fact, since the livelihood of the villagers closer to the shore of the lake is more affected by the ecological situation of the region, in these villages, we will face a decrease in the population, especially the active population. Based on this, to sustain the people living in the villages and cities near the lake, the necessity of all-round planning that prevents the emptying of most of the villages, preserves the residents and natives of the region, and supports the young forces of the region, and also restores peace and stability to the region, is very important. It is felt. Incompatible scenario No. 3 (very critical situation), dam construction in Urmia Lake Basin has been stopped; The unemployment rate has remained stable, but the level of poverty and inequality in the region and the feeling of personal and social security have increased. The continuation of unemployment in the region will cause residents to leave and migrate to nearby cities. As a result, the economy of the entire region, including the tourism industry, will fall rapidly. Also, the jobs of people who are dependent on tourism will also be destroyed. On the other hand, the widening of inequalities and the creation of class gaps in a society have a direct relationship with the increase in social damages and the increase in the number of crimes in it. Considering that the dominant economy in this region is agriculture, it seems that it is better to prevent migration and improve the livelihood of residents by planning the resilient rural communities, training new irrigation methods, introducing local products compatible with the environmental situation, and providing facilities and credits for providing these products to the villagers. Such solutions should be brought up in urgent meetings and quickly put on the agenda of the relevant executive institutions.