Population growth and rising water demand, climate change, severe droughts, and land-use changes are among the top severe issues in Iran. Water management in this country is sectoral and disintegrated. Each authority evaluates water based on its final intention and there is no commonplace indicator for evaluation programs. In this research, we used the Water Poverty Index (WPI) to map the status of water scarcity in a north-eastern province of Iran. Water poverty was measured based on five components of “Resources”, “Access”, “Capacity”, “Use”, and “Environment”. The scores on each component were then aggregated using the weighted multiplicative function, assuming equal weights for all components. The overall WPI was evaluated to be 41.1, signaling an alarming and serious water poverty in the study area. Based on the results, Azadshahr (29.1) and Gorgan (61.6) districts had the worst and the best conditions among all cases, respectively. To better understand the importance of WPI components, four weighting alternatives were used; however, none of them resulted in a tangible improvement of WPI index. The cross-correlation between the components was also evaluated, with Access and Capacity showing significant results. Leaving out “Capacity”, however, reduced WPI by 8.1. In total, “Access”, “Capacity”, and “Use” had the highest correlation with WPI, implying that any attempt to improve water poverty in the province must firstly tackle these issues. This study showed that WPI is an effective indicator of water scarcity assessment and could be used to make priorities for policy-making and water management.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited