Analysis of the effects of Afghanistan Salma Dam on water stresses in Mashhad

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor in Political Geography Shahid Beheshti University

2 Ph.D Student in Political Geography Tarbiat Modares University

3 Ph.D Student in Political Geography, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad



Extended Abstract

1. Introduction

The outlook for water supply and the future of the metropolis of Mashhad, Apart from being affected by the general crisis of water tensions in the country, it is influenced by the variable of Afghanistan's neighborhood and hydro political policies; Afghanistan Because, aware of its geographical situation (being landlocked), To compensate part of its needs in the development of water, agricultural and economic infrastructures, It has moved towards the policy of hydro-hegemony (instrumental role of water) in relation to its neighbors, including Iran. In fact, Afghanistan's hydro-hegemony policy is a type of diplomatic and political strategy of this country, to compensate part of the "power-security-identity" vacuum, in geopolitical balance with its neighbors. Numerous dam constructions, including the construction of the Selma Dam, are included in this analysis. Specifically, the construction of the Selma Dam on the main branch of Harirud has consequences on the water tensions of Mashhad metropolis. Types of geopolitical, political-security, social, economic (food insecurity) and environmental tensions are among the consequences of applying this strategy.

2. Methodology

This research is taken into account as descriptive – analytical based on nature and method. Information of the research has been gathered in attributive method and by referring to valid sources.

3. Results and discussion

1-3.General view of the hydrology of Mashhad metropolis

In total, there are more than 736,000 agricultural wells in the country, and 320,000 of them are illegal. Of this amount, 4144 wells belong to the Mashhad plain, most of which are in a super critical condition.

3-1-2. the state of the surface resources of Mashhad metropolis:

Part of Mashhad's surface water supply is provided by 24 rivers. There are 4 rivers in Ahmadabad sector, 6 rivers in Targahba sector, 4 rivers in Razavieh sector, 6 rivers in Central sector and 4 rivers belong to Kalat sector. Most of these rivers are in critical condition.

2-3.Harirud is a river shared by the three countries of Afghanistan, Iran and Turkmenistan

According to the agreements made between the governments of Iran and Turkmenistan, the manner and extent of using the water of Harirud River and Dosti Dam has been determined, but there is no agreement with the Afghan government in this regard. Undoubtedly, the construction and completion of water structures on Harirud, despite a legal vacuum, Regardless of the water share and the understanding of the water bottlenecks of the three countries in the common catchment area, it will bring water tensions in the future.

3-3. Effects and consequences of Salma Dam on the water tensions of Mashhad metropolis

In total, the tensions caused by water shortage and dehydration in the metropolis of Mashhad are as follows:

3-3-1. Geopolitical tensions: Today, water has emerged as a geopolitical issue and it affects states relations. Afghanistan's rulers of all orientations, they know through water control, they will be able to control their neighbors: In this case, Afghanistan looks at Hirmand and Harirud rivers as a political tool and And she has based her foreign policy doctrine towards Iran and Pakistan on this basis.

3-3-2. Social tensions: Water as a rare and non-renewable resource is the main factor of life and development and and the possibility of collision of groups, It increases people and population centers together.

3-3-3. Security-political tensions: The security-political tensions of water shortage in Mashhad metropolis are caused by two factors: the high rate of Mashhad's urban population, the reverse migration of villagers and suburban towns to Mashhad metropolis, and unforeseen expenses, caused by the rate of the pilgrim population.

3-3-4. Environmental stresses: environmental stresses caused by water shortage in various ways, such as climate change in the region (such as the Hamon area), storms, intensification of fine dust, subsidence, emptying of underground aquifers, intensification of diseases, etc. is. The climate of Khorasan Razavi according to the condition of underground water and superficial and in spite of Afghanistan's continuous dam constructions, It is susceptible to very acute and serious environmental crises.

3-3-5. Tensions caused by food insecurity: the agricultural sector, as the largest consumer of water in the world, It provides food security. and any change in climatic conditions and access to the required water and threats to the water security of the countries, Food security will also be threatened. In general, due to the lack of water, the amount of production of some products will decrease And that is why we are facing food security.


Problems related to access and lack of water include a wide range of environmental, social, security, political and economic issues such as climate change, migration from the village to the city and the depopulation of border areas, competition and conflict between different social groups, problems related to The field of health is like all kinds of diseases, food insecurity, reduction of quality of life, mental and psychological problems, etc. The water crisis in the metropolis of Mashhad is a smaller picture of the big picture of the water crisis in Iran. To advance water goals, The Islamic Republic of Iran in common water areas, while adopting active water diplomacy with its neighbors and establishing an agreement, It should give legal and international legitimacy to this issue. However, this research believes that due to the inherent nature of competition over vital resources and the selfish views of upstream countries, Expecting water supply from outside the basin is somewhat unrealistic. In general, the focus should be on low-cost and possible methods: For example, reforming the agricultural model within the framework of the principle of sustainable development. 2) Collection of runoff water. and 3) utilization and recovery of wastewater and grey- water. With these methods, spending less coast (compared to sea transfer plans, inter-regional transfer, importation, etc.), It is possible to compensate part of the country's water tensions.

5- Keywords: Iran, Afghanistan, Mashhad metropolis, hydro-hegemony


Main Subjects

Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 25 October 2022
  • Receive Date: 07 July 2021
  • Revise Date: 25 October 2022
  • Accept Date: 25 October 2022