Elderly Care in Iran
The Iranian government recently turned an eye towards aiding development and putting the nation back on track after the Iraq war. There is still a great deal of room for social reform in this improved state of development, especially in the area of elderly care in Iran.

Aid for the elderly population in Iran is projected to become a large issue, as the country experienced a baby boom in the years of the Iraq-Iran war (1980 to 1988) which will lead to an increased elderly population in the future. The rising rate of unemployment in Iran has made it difficult for the elderly to find and hold jobs, and most elderly people are unable to provide for themselves in their old age.

Elderly People in Iran

One-third of the Iranian elderly population is not covered by any health insurance; meanwhile, the Iranian government diminished the elderly retirement pension — only one-third of the elderly population receives a pension — while 20 percent of families are economically dependent on the senior householder. The elderly demographic has a very low socioeconomic status and basic insurance policies fail to cover most elderly care costs. Without the money to afford the extra costs, older people often fail to receive the help they need.

There are currently five main governmental organizations taxed with elderly care in Iran:

  • The Social Security Organization
  • The State Welfare Organization
  • The Red Crescent
  • The Imam Khumeini Relief Foundation
  • The Martyrs Foundation

However, there are no clear developed policies on elderly care, and no single organization responsible for addressing this crucial societal need. As a result, ambiguity and uncertainty surround specific organizational responsibility.

Challenges of Elderly Care in Iran

Policy-making is one identified challenge of the elderly care process in addition to access, technical infrastructure, integrity and coordination and lastly, health-based care services. In regards to access, there are no transportation facilities and many of the elderly are entirely stuck at home due to physical reasons or an inability to pay for transportation costs.

Also, 70 percent of elderly people in Iran are illiterate, which impacts their awareness of access to resources. Currently, Iran does not have the physical, human and informational resources to implement an elderly care policy. This is concerning as the country is projected to experience fast demographic changes and a huge increase in the elderly population in the near future.

The country does have community-based services for the elderly such as nursing homes, adult daycare centers, cultural centers and meals on wheels; unfortunately, the distribution is sparse and these services are intended for mainly elderly people with disabilities. However, on a more positive note, the fact that this issue is being qualitatively and quantitatively studied is considered progress.

Need for Action

Historically, little attention has been paid to elderly care in Iran, but new studies and scenario exercises will thankfully aid the government in creating a sturdy policy framework for addressing elderly care in Iran.

The country is still developing and many other issues surrounding poverty are the main focus of the government right now. There is still time to address the problem of elderly care in Iran before it becomes too big to handle, but the Iranian government will need to start taking action immediately.

– Mary Spindler

Photo: Pixabay

Universal Basic Income in Iran
Universal Basic Income (UBI) in Iran was originally implemented in 2011, making it one of the first countries to use such a program. While there have been some opponents to this program, it largely remained successful in comparison to existing welfare programs.

Universal Basic Income and Poverty

Universal basic income is used in developing countries to fight poverty and to promote health and education, where the population does not have enough resources to fulfill these needs on their own. Iran started their universal basic income program in 2011 in the form of cash transfers.

The government started monthly deposits of cash into individual family accounts amounting to 29% of the median household income and 6.5% of the GDP. This amounts to about $1.50 extra income per person per day.

In the 40 years prior, there have been subsidies on bread and energy, so people paid less for bread, water, electricity, heating and fuel. This program was changed to the cash transfer program in 2011 because the government believed that energy subsidies always benefit the wealthy more than the poor and also because energy subsidies encourage more fuel consumption which is detrimental to the environment.

Universal Basic Income and Labor Supply

One of the main concerns people had before this program was implemented was that it would negatively affect the labor supply. It was believed that if people received money from the government unconditionally, there would be no incentive for them to work at all.

However, the only negative labor supply that was affected was people between the ages of 20 and 29. But this age group did not have a strong connection with the labor market even before the Universal Basic Income program in Iran was implemented. This is because Iranians have the choice to enroll in tertiary and graduate education, thus largely preventing this age group from working.

Rationing is prevalent in the market for formal work in the private and public sectors, where jobs are highly sought after. Employees are attached to their jobs and are unlikely to withdraw from their positions. This is apparent even with the population receiving cash assistance.

Positive Impact of UBI

Of the individuals employed in 2010, 88.5 percent remained employed, 4.5 percent lost or quit their jobs and the rest became inactive in 2011. Of the unemployed, 26.3 percent found work in 2011, which is about the same number as those who lost their jobs in 2011. Of those engaged in housework in 2010, 3.2 percent found jobs in 2011, which is fewer than those who left their jobs for housework.

There was a positive impact of the universal basic income program on the service sector. This can be explained by the fact that the service sector is populated by credit-constrained small firms that cash transfers can help expand. Some examples of workers in the service industry are housekeepers, teachers and deliverymen. In fact, their weekly hours had increased by roughly 36 minutes.

Conclusion

The overall conclusion is that the program did not affect labor supply in any appreciable way, according to a paper published by economists in 2011. Universal Basic Income in Iran is a proven program despite the fact it went through modifications. It serves as an example of the benefits a UBI has that other countries can look to for comparison.

– Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in IranPoverty in Iran has been fluctuating over the years. There are many reasons for this, but also many solutions that the government, citizens and other countries can take to make changes and help those in poverty. The current population of Iran is around 82 million, and in 2017,  28.40 percent were unemployed youth.

According to a World Bank study, poverty in Iran is estimated to have fallen from 13.1 percent to 8.1 percent between 2009 and 2013. This was most likely because of a universal cash transfer program in late 2010 that focused on eliminating the subsidies on energy and bread. However, poverty is still a major issue. According to another World Bank study, poverty increased again in 2014 and declining social assistance could be a potential reason.

Poverty in Iran is not only affecting citizens’ ability to afford basic necessities, but is also causing negative issues related to mental health, including suicide, in Iran’s youth. Regardless of all the causes of poverty, there are actions being made to make changes.

Income Gap Causing Problems

Unemployment is a major problem in Iran. Many individuals are working more than one job to afford basic necessities and pull themselves and their families out of poverty, while others are barely working at all. According to an Iranian economist, “there are currently 3.3 million jobless people in the country.” This is due to the increasing income gap between the rich and the poor. The minimum wage jobs of many individuals with lower incomes can not help them move out of poverty and the wealth gap has been expanding. On top of this, there aren’t enough jobs to go around.

According to World Bank statistics, unemployment in Iran was 11.26 percent in 2016, 11.06 percent in 2015 and 10.57 percent in 2014. There is hope that the unemployment rate will keep going down by creating more jobs and having the government adopt new approaches to pull individuals out of poverty.

In 2017, President Rouhani stated that his government wants to prioritize reducing unemployment and creating around 900,000 job opportunities per year. On the other hand, Labor Minister Ali Rabiei said that realistically his government can create 300,000 to 400,000 job opportunities annually.

Sanctions Hurt the People Too

U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran don’t only affect the politicians but the citizens too. Sanctions are seen as one of the major causes of food insecurity, mass suffering and eventual high poverty rates. According to The Economist, 75 million Iranians are suffering from the U.S. sanctions imposed on them. Oil, for instance, is the largest source of income for Iran. When there is no oil coming, there are no U.S. dollars, and everything purchased in Iran is with U.S. dollars. With no U.S. dollars, the value of Iranian rial is falling drastically, causing many companies to go bankrupt. Therefore, they have to let a lot of employees go.

The World Bank released a report on the economic improvement in Iran and stated that many of the economic developments in Iran are due to the removal of the sanctions over the country’s nuclear energy program enforced in 2016. Removing the sanctions will make living conditions for Iranian citizens in poverty less difficult. However, as of November 2018, the U.S. is imposing the sanctions again and informing and requesting all other countries, including India, China and the European Union countries, to stop working with Iran. With reinforced sanctions that were in place before 2016, there is a lot of unrest and fear among citizens for more unemployment and more people going into poverty.  

Action to Reduce Poverty

Poverty in Iran can be seen as a major issue, exasperated by the upcoming sanctions on businesses and oil in the country as well as the increasing gap between the rich and poor in society.  However, statistics show that creating jobs and removing sanctions can significantly improve the lives of Iranians living in poverty. Communication is key to global change.

– Negin Nia
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Human Rights in Iran
In March 2018, the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.S. Mission in Geneva restated their concerns about the state of human rights in Iran, such as the rigorously restricted rights of both expression and freedom that are enforced by Iranian authorities. People are arrested and imprisoned for expressing different beliefs and the punishments for crimes include floggings and amputations. Iranian authorities have refused to allow U.N. specialists to get involved. These facts about human rights in Iran explore some of the recent and ongoing issues in the country.

Facts About Human Rights in Iran

  1. In the presidential elections of May 2017, President Hassan Rouhani was elected for a second term. However, he was elected due to a discriminatory election process that included the disqualification of candidates based on their gender, religion or political opinions.
  2. The first large-scale anti-establishment protest since 2009 happened at the end of December 2017. Many Iranians protested against the ongoing poverty, corruption and political restrictions in their country.
  3. In 2016, 203 people were executed by law enforcement by October. Different human rights groups also say that the number may be higher, stating that more than 437 people were killed because the majority of executions occurred during the second part of the year.
  4. The U.S. imposed its first injunction on Iran for violations of human rights in 2010. As a result, 10 different Iranian administrators were given financial constraints and were banned from traveling to the U.S.
  5. The United Nations Children’s Rights Committee stated in March 2016 that flogging continued to be used as a lawful punishment for boys and girls who had been sentenced for crimes. Despite amendments to Iran’s penal code, children were still being executed in 2016.
  6. Another fact about human rights in Iran is that there have been continuing restrictions on media and obstructions of foreign television stations. In addition, Iranian authorities have banned 152 journalists from making any financial transactions.
  7. Iranian authorities continue to restrict medical care for prisoners. These prisoners are forced to live in horrible conditions, including overcrowding, little to no hot water, insect infestations and poor food quality.
  8. Different intelligence organizations in Iran continuously monitor citizens’ activity on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. Multiple civilians active on social media have been arrested for comments made on the platforms.
  9. Women in Iran face heavy discrimination in personal matters like child custody, marriage and divorce. A law that is still in place today is that women need a male guardian’s permission to get married, even if the woman is an adult.
  10. Trials in Iran continue to be unfair, including prejudices against Iranians with dual citizenship. These citizens and foreigners endure lengthy prison sentences, unfair trials and capricious arrests.

These facts about human rights in Iran shed light on the maltreatment Iranian people have to endure. President Rouhani has been in office for three years, and though he based his campaign on improving human rights conditions, the situation remains the same in Iran.

– Alyssa Hannam
Photo: Flickr

Air Pollution in IranAccording to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 9 out of 10 people breathe in high levels of pollutants resulting in the deaths of 7 million people each year. These diseases include cancer, heart disease, lung disease and strokes. The regions with the highest rates of air pollution are commonly found in Asia and Africa; however, cities in America, Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean also have levels that WHO finds unhealthy.

For regions with high rates of air pollution, the issue often lies with energy production such as the of burning coal and other industrial activities. These methods lead to increased air pollution because, on average, developing countries don’t possess the technology and resources to combat polluting waste. Iran is one such country that is experiencing this very problem.

Dust Storms in the Khuzestan Province

At the start of 2018, Iran made headlines for having the worst dust storm yet where elementary schools in 15 cities were shut down in the province of Khuzestan alone. Ahvaz, the largest city of southwestern Iran, was one of the 15. Known for its post-secondary education and role in commerce and industry, Ahvaz pollution levels were approximately 53 times higher than the moderate standard that WHO considers safe. As a result of the large dust storm, people of this province were forced to stay indoors, without power or running water at times, and 806 people were taken to the emergency wards, of whom 39 were hospitalized and nine were taken into intensive care.

This year’s dust storm isn’t the first to occur in the Khuzestan province. According to a study on the dust storms in southwestern Iran, one of the highest occurrences of dust storms was in 2009 with the respective number of days being 48 days during colder climates and 122 days during warmer climates. Because of the reoccurring dust storms, the number of protests has increased.

In January, the people of Ahvaz gathered in front of the City Council to bring awareness of the effects air pollution is having on them such as the loss of domestic products and increased health care costs. For example, the World Bank reports that diseases caused by air pollution cost $260 million in Iran causing damage to Iran’s economy by as much as 0.023 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Fueling their grievances further and contributing to the economic decline of Iran are changes in the regions’ climate and depleting water sources. Stronger winds are carrying the toxic dust and contaminating the water, which additionally aggravates health issues and thereby increases the medical costs for treatments.

Air Pollution in Tehran

In Tehran, air pollution is also causing grievances. Tehran is located at higher altitudes with the Alborz Mountain Range surrounding it and, therefore, comes in contact with the majority of the air pollution in Iran. The air pollution is also attributed to temperature inversions that prevent common pollutants like carbon dioxide and sulfur from being broken down in the atmosphere and the high use of vehicles stocked with archaic technology that continue to move around Tehran. Other major causes of air pollution in Iran include come from refineries and power plants, industries, household sources, and gas terminals.

In Tehran, the annual economic health costs associated with air pollution are about $2.6 billion. In order to combat air pollution, Tehran Municipality has shut down 8 businesses and heavily restricted the use of older trucks and buses. They also encourage the production of vehicles with more updated technology to reduce air pollution, which will replace some of the 3,400 old buses that crowd the streets today.

As a result of such actions, air pollution in Iran is seeing results. For example, the amount of black carbon (a major air pollutant) present was decreased by 50 percent, which reduces the toxicity of the air pollution affecting the population. In recent years, Iran has adopted higher fuel quality standards, is working to improve the management of the methods of congestion in locations with major activity and has encouraged the use of hybrid and electric vehicles as well as the use of bicycles.

The Clean Air Law in Iran

The Clean Air Law, adopted in July of 2017, continues implementing methods of reducing air pollution in Iran. For example, the law introduces heavier punishments and fines for any industries or individuals that do not adhere to the pollution limits. They also plan to divide the city of Tehran into three zones and charge people for crossing into the zones (like a toll system) as a way of deterring people from using personal cars, which will help decrease the particles present.

In efforts to decrease the number of children being admitted into hospitals for an air pollution-related condition, there have been talks of starting the school year earlier so that students would be on vacation during the period of the worst pollution in winter or introducing a one month vacation during that time. The Ministry of Agriculture has also acknowledged the importance of anti-desertification in reducing the pollution from dust storms and will be working annually on the 300,000 hectares of land that have caused the worst of the storms.

A Brighter Future

By taking these steps forward in reducing air pollution, Iran is working to prevent the premature deaths that result from noncommunicable diseases due to air pollution every year. It also reduces the cost of treatment and time off needed since fewer individuals would need to miss work to be attended to and could, therefore, become more financially stable. This allows the country to distribute financial efforts and alleviate another poverty stressor.

In general, the management of pollution can improve the quality of life for individuals and enhance competitiveness for the country through job creation, better energy efficiency, improved transport and sustainable urban and rural development. It also combats climate change thereby contributing to the alleviation of poverty by providing jobs and creating a healthier population.

– Stephanie Singh
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in IranAs Iran is currently at the epicenter of geopolitics and regional conflicts in the turbulent Middle East, the country’s role in international affairs is steadily growing in importance. Moreover, the Iran nuclear deal is also revitalizing Iran’s presence and significance on the global stage at the same time.

The Current Situation in Iran

According to the World Bank Group, Iran’s GDP in 2017 was $439.5 billion while its population peaked at 80.6 million. On the poverty alleviation front, poverty in Iran fell from 13.1 percent to 8.1 percent between the years 2009 to 2013. Also, in the changing dynamic of its domestic politics and a new wave of secularism and liberalism brought on by a burgeoning young population in the country, addressing poverty in Iran is a very key objective for various stakeholder groups.

However, according to a report by the Independent from Dec. 2017, the economic situation in Iran appears rather bleak in some regard because food prices are on the rise and unemployment figures are at an all-time high at over 12.4 percent. Expanding income inequalities in the country are also becoming quite widespread due to major deficiencies in the taxation and welfare systems offered to the people.

How Iran’s Political Climate Could Affect Poverty

Historically, since the culmination of the Pahlavi dynasty and revolution in Iran in 1979, the country’s social and economic progress has been a vital priority. In recent years, owing to the perceived threat of its nuclear arsenal, Iran’s diplomatic relations with its western counterparts have impacted its trade and commerce majorly due to the imposition of crippling international sanctions.

Furthermore, the changing attitudes of the Trump administration are a major threat to the deal as it may be detrimental to the future economic and diplomatic recovery Iran is trying to seek. Unfortunately, the collapse of the deal could be a major hindrance to countering poverty in Iran.

The Iran nuclear deal can help greatly bolster the capacity to alleviate poverty in Iran due to the level of investment Iran could easily achieve in the future with the expansion of its oil market, given its vast and abundant reserves. Iran can boost its oil output, GDP and household incomes in the future with diminished sanctions.

Consequently, the introduction of the Iran nuclear deal was followed by noticeable economic recovery in the country with Iran’s economy growing at an annual rate of about 12.5 percent after a sizeable contraction of about 1.6 percent in the year 2015. The country hopes to maintain growth amounting to four percent annually.

Alleviating Poverty in Iran through Investment

Moreover, remediating poverty in Iran can also be achieved by increasing the level of investment and tapping into Iran’s potential. Iran is beginning to expand and diversify its industries, especially its hydrocarbon, agriculture and services sectors, and is also continuing to focus on boosting its financial and manufacturing capabilities as well. Additionally, this may help decrease Iran’s over-reliance on its oil market as prices have often tended to remain quite volatile, especially in recent years.

The government is also implementing its twentieth-year vision and sixth five-year development plan in order to focus more on market-based reforms and techniques. This strategy is targeting three important realms: economy, science and technology. The subsidy reforms orchestrated by the government will directly help reduce poverty in Iran as they aim to target price adjustment and further increase cash transfers to low-income households in the country.

Alleviating poverty in Iran shall largely depend on existing and future initiatives that involve opening up the economy further, engaging in economic and trade liberalization with its key trading partners and embarking on further domestic structural reforms.

– Shivani Ekkanath
Photo: Flickr

girls' education in Iran
In recent years, girls’ education in Iran has fallen victim to many restrictions and limitations. While Iran was one of the first countries in the Middle East to allow women to study at the university level, many things have changed since the violence of the Iraq war and other related conflicts. Many Iranian politicians in the years after 9/11 have viewed girls’ education in Iran in a different light, often as a threat to political power.

Repression for Girls’ Education in Iran

The presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from 2005 to 2013 ushered in an era of repression for girls’ education in Iran. Before his election, women accounted for more applications to universities than men in Iran. During Ahmadinejad’s presidency, however, many restrictions were introduced to girls education including separate entrances and classrooms, as well as separate social areas and a repression of the subjects women were allowed to study.

This trend represents what many politicians labeled a return to more traditional Islamic values and a “re-Islamisation” of the Iranian people. This call for change from political leaders placed an emphasis on reducing Western influence on Iranian culture and many of these reductions were felt by the female population in Iran. Conservative government officials made it known that they felt the education of women was leading to a diminishment of family values and desire for women to bear children and perform familial duties.

To promote this view, President Ahmadinejad’s administration primarily linked girls’ education in Iran to an increasing divorce rate and decreasing fertility rate. In addition to linking these factors, the administration promoted gender-based admission policies through the Iranian ministry of science, which selects who leads universities in Iran.

Change in Admissions and Leadership

In August 2012, Mehr news agency reported that women were being prevented from admissions in 77 majors, 36 universities and in important areas such as accounting, education, chemistry, engineering and advising in Iran. Many of the majors reserved for men included engineering, surveying, management and leadership positions.

In 2013, Iran elected Hassan Rouhani as its president, which marks a hopeful improvement in the fight for equal rights for women’s education. Rouhani criticized gender-based education in Iran, and has stated that his administration will not discriminate between men and women seeking employment or education in Iran. While the President and his administration feel that this is fair, many in Iran oppose his rollback of gender-based education and his administration has not had much effect on the state of women’s education in Iraq today.

An Upwards Battle

While the fight for girls’ education in Iran will undoubtedly be better received by the Rouhani administration, it is still an upwards battle for the women in Iran to see educational improvements in their lives.  Even though girls’ education in Iran has largely been accepted and promoted since the turn of the twentieth century, in recent years many people have called for a return to a more traditional Islamic model of women having more familial duties in the home.

It is the hope of many people that Iran allows its women to gain the educational opportunities they want and deserve. With a presidential administration amenable to equal education for women, Iranian women may gain equal access to education soon.

– Dalton Westfall
Photo: Flickr

Economic development in Iran
Economic development in Iran seems to be on the horizon. The World Bank released a report called “Iran’s Economic Outlook” in which it states that 2018-19 will see an overall economic improvement in the nation as the increase in investments and the reelection of President Hassan Rouhani in May 2017 provides political stability.

Moreover, the GDP growth rate is estimated at 3.6 percent, and the International Monetary Fund projects the Iranian GDP to expand by 3.8 percent in 2018, for a future economic growth of 4.1 percent in 2022. According to many analysts, such unprecedented economic development in Iran is most likely due to the removal of international sanctions over the country’s nuclear energy program in 2016.

Iran’s Economy is On the Rise

Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have revealed that Iran has seen a staggering 12.5 percent increase of its GDP in 2016. The increase in oil output was a major factor toward such economic development in Iran, after restrictions on crude sales were removed.

Such economic improvement gives hope for a comprehensive reduction of poverty in Iran. In fact, the Institute for Management and Planning Studies has released a study in which it shows more than 900 figures of what the poverty line in Iran looks like.

Data of Economic Development

This data was collected from over 40 reports released by the Statistical Center of Iran, the Central Bank of Iran and other independent research centers. Furthermore, according to study co-authors and economists Majid Einian and Davoud Severi, 12.31 percent of all Iranians are poor and a total 10.61 percent of urban and 17.03 percent of rural households live in poverty.

According to the Financial Tribune, however, the Ministry of Cooperatives and Labor and Social Welfare draws the poverty line at $159 a month for a household of 3 to 5 members. Interestingly, the economists who led the study chose $61.3 for an individual living in urban areas and $38.6 for each person living in rural areas as the standard to define what living in poverty means.

As the World Bank has reported, Iran managed to reduce poverty to 8 percent between 2009 and 2013. However, the divide between rural and urban is still quite impressive. On average, in fact, poverty in rural areas is three times higher than in urban areas.

Action to Reduce Poverty in Iran

Between 2009 and 2014, the Iranian government took action towards the reduction of poverty by assisting its citizens with universal cash transfer. This action contributed to a economic growth of 1.3 percent of the bottom 40 percent of the population.

As far as other sectors of the economy are concerned, the World Bank foresees a growth of the agriculture at a rate of 4.1 percent in both 2018 and 2019 and of the industrial sector at 4.7 percent and 4.8 percent for 2018 and 2019 respectively, and the services sector is expected to grow at 3 percent and 3.4 percent. With these statistics in sight, the future of Iran’s economic development is promising.

– Luca Di Fabio

Photo: Pixabay

Media Misrepresents Iran
Western media has a notorious reputation for misrepresenting developing countries. This article will discuss how the media misrepresents Iran with framing, agenda-setting and manipulation. It will also debunk the common stereotypes embedded in these examples of misinformation.

Iran as a Pro-Terrorism Country

Categorizing Iran as a pro-terrorist country is the largest example of how the media misrepresents Iran. Western media is very quick to blame Iran-based problems on terrorism and, often times, radical Islam. In fact, Iran’s legislation and government officials have clearly proven that they’d prefer Iran to be on sound terms with other nations.

Iranian citizens have been dissatisfied about government spending and its foreign ventures for over a decade now; they would rather spend money internally. To note, reformist president Hassan Rouhani was actually approved for office because of his promise to improve relations with other nations.

Both him and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif are seen as national heroes for their desire for peaceful relations with other countries. To note, western media emphasizes this (false) aspect of Iran the most.

Iran as an Anti-Israeli Country

Characterizing it as a nation with a vendetta against Israelis is the next most common way of how the media misrepresents Iran. Though some Iranian leaders have verbally attacked Israel (like president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose presidency ended in 2013), Iranian citizens have proven to contradict this anti-Israeli feeling.

Larry Cohler-Esses, Jewish journalist, decided to travel to Iran for an exclusive look at Iranian citizens daily lives and genuine feelings. He found that most Iranians are, again, more concerned with domestic issues, with fears surrounding isolation and struggling economically. Indeed, individual citizens have no interest in attacking Israel, but the Iranian government does.

Iran as an Oppressive Country

Western media also misrepresents Iran as a country that oppresses and discriminates against religious minority groups. Iran is known for typically having a conservative, Muslim government that many assume oppresses other religions.

It is true that there has been discrimination against the Baha’i community, but this is because the Baha’i faith has been consider heretical since the 19th Century; however, discrimination is only directed toward the Baha’i community but not to Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and other religious communities.

Iran as a “Backwards” Nation

The media has presented Iran as an impoverished country that is struggling to modernize society. When Cohler-Esses traveled to Iran, he saw no evidence of this.

Instead, he saw a well-educated, youthful population that was fashionable, modern, and critical of their own government. The media also presents Iran as a country with little to no free press, but instead, reformist newspapers have gotten more popular over the years. While Iran does frequently have issues with legislation that constantly changes and effects freedom of press, the nation’s press ultimately has a fair range of freedom to vocalize their concerns.

The media continues to paint Iran as a country with little to no growth or progress, ignoring its efforts to modernize and industrialize society; fortunately, though, this myth continues to be disproven, time and time again.

The media landscape continues to paint blurry pictures of developing countries, but as countries continue to modernize, the reality will present itself — especially in the case of Iran.

– Chylene Babb

Photo: Flickr


Agriculture plays an important role in Iran’s economic sector. In fact, it accounts for over one-quarter of the GDP and one-quarter of employment. However, Iranian land also experiences diverse climatic conditions. These conditions along with issues such as the increasing population and destruction of natural resources, overdependence on pesticide, insecticide and chemicals, limited arable land, soil erosion and water pollution threaten sustainable agriculture in Iran. As such, fostering sustainable agriculture in Iran is a major goal for the country.

 

Fostering Sustainable Agriculture in Iran Through the Forestry Sector

One notable project led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations focuses on the country’s forestry sector. In an effort to foster sustainable agriculture in Iran, it aims to save oak and boxwood trees in the Iranian forests. The FAO has developed 15 reports and guidelines it believes are crucial in ensuring sustainable agriculture in Iran.

Additionally, the FAO implemented a project between 2015 to 2017 in support of establishing sustainable forest management in Iran. This effort increased the resilience and strengthened the capacity of forests to overcome natural shocks resulting from repeated droughts. The FAO also established a UTF (Unilateral Trust Fund) project in order to respond to the most urgent issues related Iranian forests.

 

Water Management Methods

Farming has become a challenge in Iran due to declining rainfalls and the overuse of water. The Conservation of Iranian Wetlands project is implemented by the Departments of Environment and Agriculture, the U.N. Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility. It is a sustainable agriculture initiative in Iran that aims to expose villagers to crucial water management methods. It showcases simple agricultural techniques such as composting that saves not only the environment but also improves the economy.

 

Training Farmers with Simple Agricultural Techniques

This initiative started small, initially bringing only 25 farmers from a village to demonstrate 9 different agricultural and water management techniques. However, those farmers replicate the sustainable approaches they learn on the site in their own farms, thereby increasing yields.

Through theoretical classes and practical demonstrations, these farmers learn about crucial alternatives to traditional flood irrigation and the use of chemical fertilizer. Since both techniques overuse water, the sustainable techniques introduced in this project teach farmers to use water efficiently.

For instance, the traditional flood irrigation method requires farms to be irrigated for days at a time. Conversely, through adopting the techniques promoted in this project, crops would need only five hours of water. These techniques save 4400 cubic meters of water in the region.

In addition to helping the environment, it also helps increase farmers’ individual incomes since it increases yields significantly. For instance, the average yield of one hectare in the wetland is 70 tonnes. By using the sustainable techniques, yields are doubled up to 148 tonnes for common crops such as tomatoes or watermelons.

This project also aims to involve women by bringing 11 women facilitators who learn the techniques and implement them in their communities. Plans of reproducing this initiative in other parts of Iran are already in effect.

Since so many livelihoods in the country depend on agriculture, working toward having sustainable agriculture in Iran is crucial. Hopefully, with continued support and initiatives in this sector, sustainable agriculture in Iran will become a reality, which would not only save the environment but also increase incomes.

– Mehruba Chowdhury

Photo: Flickr