During the last decade water has become an increasingly important issue in many areas of Iran. Based on the studies of International Institute of Water Management, Iran faces with physical water scarcity. Water Resources Assessment Indicator, also shows that Iran has severe crisis in water resources.
In three recent years drought as a main natural phenomenon increased the water scarcity, especially in agricultural sector. Indeed, there is a relative consensus among practitioners that the increasing water scarcity through excessive use of water and mismanagement of the available water resources are important impediments to agricultural sustainability. Considering the fact that rural areas are the main water consumers, especially through the agricultural sector, it seems that the sustainability of agricultural water management is, to some extent, a new and important notion that requires to be translated into practical ways using appropriate systems of assessment.
A number of water stress indices have been constructed with the aim to estimate water vulnerability such as Hydrological Water Stress Index (HWSI), Social Water Stress/Scarcity Index (SWSI), Water Poverty Index (WPI). Up to introduction of WPI, water resource was the sole criterion for assessing water problem. WPI produces an integrated assessment of water stress and scarcity, linking physical estimates of water availability with socioeconomic variables.
Critical review of the aformentioned indices indicates that the more sophisticated indices are needed to better understand and solve the increasing water problems. Because water scarcity has both natural and manufactured nature, and it can be perceived as a social problem. However none of those indicees has specifically addressed the crucial issue of water in agriculture. So, in order to operationalize and achieve sustainability of water management, the study wiil try to develop an Agricultural Water Poverty Index (AWPI) as a comprehensive index for assessing agricultural water situation. AWPI as a heuristic instrument in providing a holistic picture of vital issues for the sustainable water management, has the potency to assess the agricultural water poverty among farmers and regions and also provides guidelines for sustainable water management.
In order to develop the AWPI as the main aim of this study and also examin the perceptions of farmers affected by agricultural water scarcity, several preliminary field studies have been conducted in Oct 2009 to June 2010 in Marvdasht region of Fars province in Iran. Consequently the primary versions of AWPI was examined and reviseed. The study will be continued for final measuring the agricultural water poverty of farmers in 2010, as well.