Iran’s water shortage, particularly in southern, central, and eastern provinces, is one of the enormous crises that Iranian people deal with. This is while Iran has surrounded by the Caspian Sea from the north and the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea from the south. Furthermore, huge rivers such as Karun, Sefidrud, Hirmand, Zayandehrud, Jajrud, Siminehrud, Zarrinehrud, and many lakes, wetlands, and fertile gulfs have swept the country.
However, given the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC)’s profiteering dam construction projects, Iran’s water infrastructures have been wrecked and the country has been plunged water crisis. In Sistan and Baluchestan province, southeastern Iran, many children lost their lives or their hands or legs due to alligators’ assaults. In this region, families have to extract their needed water from lakes filled by a special type of alligators named “Gando.”
#Iran, Sistan & Baluchestan—every year, many children lose their hands or legs during extracting water from lakes swept by Gandos [a special type of alligators].
In this video, Asieh and Hava explain they have to carry some muddy water from these places due to water shortage. pic.twitter.com/ITLdTIIX4k
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) September 23, 2020
In addition to the destruction of the country’s water infrastructure, launching irresponsible projects amplified the water crisis in Iran. In this respect, construction companies affiliated to the IRGC have constructed many non-standard dams and barriers, which waste underground waters and divert rivers from their natural paths.
“I swore that I have no more power because of backache, headache, and body aches. I am 60 years old. It is impossible that we always look for some water. With such misery, we have never enjoyed life. My life depended on 10 cows. All of them died because of the water shortage. How can we live with this misery?” said an old woman in a video.
Today, many countries across the globe face water shortage and crisis. However, given the government’s horrible decisions, leading to the elimination of natural assets, this crisis has been intensified in Iran. Even government-linked figures openly mention the IRGC’s footprint in environmental disasters.
“During these years, even if an enemy had occupied our homeland, it did not do this behavior with natural resources and the environment… Every disaster that has befallen the environment has taken place in the past four decades,” said the chief of Environment Organization Isa Kalantari in an interview with ISNA news agency on October 15, 2017.
In the past months, Iranian state-run media provided enormous reports about the water crisis in different provinces, showing the tip of the iceberg alone.
“There are 2,900 villages in Lorestan province that around half of them, 1,600 villages, are supplied by the province’s Water and Wastewater Organization,” Tasnim news agency affiliated to the IRGC Quds Force quoted Hamid Reza Karamvand, the head of Lorestan Water and Wastewater Organization, on August 31, 2020.
“The people of 800 villages of Ahvaz city [center of Khuzestan province] have no stable access to drinkable water despite being close to five major dams and seven rivers,” said Mojtaba Yousefi, MP from Ahvaz, in an interview with the Ahvaz Khabar website on August 10, 2020.
“Some 1000 villages in Kerman province have problems with drinkable water… Out of this number, 527 villages deal with more substantial obstacles and supplied with tankers,” ISNA quoted the secretary-general of Kerman Governorate for rural affairs on July 24, 2020.
Unscientific Dams Destroy Iran’s Agriculture
In all of the world’s countries, governments construct dams and barriers to curb wasting the water and use collected waters for necessary consumptions, such as agricultural needs. Contrary to other countries, the Iranian government has made dams for economic motives. In this respect, these barriers not only do not benefit farmers but also destroy their lands, and furthermore, eliminate the environment and natural ecosystems.
The Khatam al-Anbyia Constructive Headquarters, known as the IRGC’s economic arm, is one of the institutions that are responsible for the water crisis. This economic base had constructed many dams on the route of rivers and aquiferous fields for economic interests. These projects lacked basic scientific reasons and merely extended water shortage in a large region.
Looting the Water by Digging Deep Wells
On the other hand, the water output from dams has decreased due to constructing non-standard dams in the whole country. In such circumstances, state-linked agents loot underground aquifers by digging deep wells.
For instance, the empty of underground aquifers has accelerated the drying process of the plains around Urmia Lake in northwestern the country. The issue also causes the water shortage for the people and farmers in Isfahan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Yazd, and Khuzestan provinces. The destruction of water infrastructure has brought many dilemmas for the people, such as the shortage of drinking water in different areas.
On August 25, Tasnim news agency published a moving report about the drinking water crisis in Sistan and Baluchestan province, titled, “A bitter story from water shortage in Baluchestan/Why 1300 villages are still supplied with tankers?”
“There are handmade holes for water, called Houtak, in villages lack running water. They are the mere way for the people to meet their needs,” Tasnim wrote.
“The Water and Wastewater Organization of Sistan and Baluchestan province claims, ‘We are providing water for 1300 villages, with 251,000 population, lack running water.’ Each person’s quota is 15 liters per day. This company has affirmed that its sources and equipment are inadequate to supply all villages have no running water and thousands of villages await tankers for mobile water supply,” Tasnim added.
In Khuzestan, in mid-August, a woman reported her children had contracted hepatitis due to mixing sewage with drinking water. “The water smells like sewage. We got sick. Our children got hepatitis. They should care us. We are poor people, but we are Iranian. We have not come from outside. The water is dirty, smells bad. It has sand. Four days ago, my daughter got hepatitis. Her liver is ill. I took her to the hospital, a doctor said she will get better. But her illness got worse again,” she said.
Notably, the people in the southern provinces are not dealing with this crisis alone. In western Iran, the people of Sar Pol-e Zahab in Kermanshah province also suffer from lack of drinking water. “Some 400 villages in Kermanshah, with nearly 20,000 population, deal with a water crisis,” ISNA reported on May 23.
In recent months, many citizens flooded into the streets to protests the water shortage. In June, the people in Gheyzanieh, a suburb of Ahvaz, attacked security forces and government buildings to show their rage against officials’ negligence. Following the protests, Khuzestan Governor vowed that the water supplying project to Gheyzanieh will complete within two weeks, and citizens will benefit from clean and stable running water, according to IRNA news agency on May 25. However, the governor’s promises did never materialize, and the people’s problems still continue.
This is not the only example of officials’ hollow words. “Despite the passage of five years, villagers in Dobb-e Hardan region, near to Ahvaz city, are still complaining about the water shortage. They have no water neither for drinking, cooking, and daily needs nor for agriculture and livestock thanks to thirst and drought,” wrote Asr Mah-e Ahvaz website on July 26.
Furthermore, in the past months, many children lost their lives when they were extracting water for their families. At least six children were drowned in Houtaks or killed by Gandos.
The expensive price of water also pushes citizens to provide their needed water through dirty and low-price waters. In fact, while the government does not supply the people with clean and stable water, they have no option except to use polluted waters with various bacteria and fungus.
In its May 23 report titled, “The country’s capital of energy has no water,” ISNA shed light on the water shortage and its impacts in Khuzestan province. “’Sometimes, we have no water in Asaluyeh county and adjacent village and we have to buy water. Those who are unemployed and have no money must tolerate and we must pay 5-6 million rials [approximately $25-30] per month for some water,’ said a local in Asaluyeh,” ISNA wrote.
Given the government’s economic failures, many citizens have lost their jobs and have no income. They should make their ends meet with a 450,000-rial [approximately $2] subsidies. In this regard, they have to provide their needs through polluted waters.
Moreover, authorities respond to people’s grievances with violence and harsh crackdown on protesters. In the last year, farmers in Isfahan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, and Khuzestan provinces frequently protested the water shortage and the government’s irresponsible policies in diverting rivers’ paths. However, the government’s response was nothing except harsh suppression, arrest, and threats. These developments have disappointed the people to obtain their basic demands through ‘legal venues’ and lead citizens to express their desires through ‘harsh means,’ as a state-run media had previously warned.