Iran water crisis sparks huge protests

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A large part of Maharloo Lake in southwest Iran has almost disappeared over the past years due to drought. PHOTO COURTESY/ AHMAD HALABISAZH

Iran is currently facing its driest summer in fifty years. Iran is parched and in desperate need of our help. Amongst Iran, 12 other nations in the Middle East and North Africa are facing water stress, and are on the frontline of the world’s climate crisis.

Droughts are common in Iran due to heatwaves and sandstorms, but this year it has been severe due to climate change, government neglect, and lack of concern for Iran’s natural resources.

Action needs to be taken, the world needs to be alarmed about this. Keep in mind that this is just a grip of what climate events are appearing across the world.

Water crisis is creating a nightmare

Water is a basic necessity that humans need to have access to. But, without access to safe water, it is making the COVID-19 situation even worse and harder to control.

Iran is in the middle of its fifth surge of COVID-19, and the cases are growing rapidly, in an extremely alarming way. Only 4 per cent of Iranian citizens are vaccinated.

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Due to the severe water scarcity, this has impacted and affected everything, especially the medical and public health services, water shortage has increased the spread of COVID-19. The water shortage has also caused major stress on agriculture because Iran uses about 90 per cent of its water resources for agriculture.

Southern and eastern regions had a 50 to 85 per cent reduction in precipitation this year. The capital, Tehran could become the epicenter of the water crisis, and rural area residents are already exhausted, leading them to move into the capital, causing major shortages in Tehran.

Protest for water

Iran is drenched, exhausted, angry, and thirsty. Thousands have taken to the streets in cities and towns to express their deepening emotions and the mishandlings of the Iranian regime.

In July, the oil-rich province of Khuzestan broke down in a major protest over water shortages. This is also the city that took the biggest hit from water shortage. Khuzestan is known for producing 80 per cent of Iran’s oil. However, the once lush farmlands that existed are now left in corps dead due to the water crisis.

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About 700 villages are forced to rely on governmental water deliveries by truck, and 110 cities throughout the country have been forced to implement some sort of water rationing.

But protests continued

With the extreme water shortage and crisis, the protestors kept expressing their grievance.

“We want water, we don’t have water.”

“They answered us with violence and bullets.”

– Mohammad, 29, shared these words in a phone interview with The New York Times from Ahvaz, Khuzestan.

Among these words, huge crowds kept shouting “we are thirsty“. The protests that started in Khuzestan, spread to the nearby city of Aligoodarz in western Lorestan province.

More than 10 people were killed, the exact number is still unknown. But, one thing we are aware of is that many innocent protestors were injured.

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Protestors were met with security forces who used tear gas, shotguns, and an automatic weapon to stop protestors (them) from protesting. They have been expectedly the ones to shoot people, the security presence remains high. They have also arrested more than hundreds of people.

The peaceful protestors do not deserve to deal with brute force or violence. Many people started to call out and speak up against the brutality of security forces.

Electricity blackout protest in cities of Iran

Amongst the water protests, the electricity blackouts have also sparked a huge protest in Iran.

But this started because the power outage was done by the government to block access to the internet, in order to prevent people from posting about protests on social media.

The protests have taken place in Tehran and other cities, causing major chaos and destruction on roads.

Iran is the reality of what climate change can do

The lives of people are impacted so significantly, the shortage has affected households, agriculture, livestock farming, and power blackouts.

We are all aware and are witnessing the chaos and suffering climate change is causing.

However, one of the main problems is rooted due to decades of poor governance, neglect, and bad management. If only, the government kept themselves prepared for a situation like this. The government has been warned multiple times in the past years that they need to find a solution.

The hot and drier weather will have an impact on hydropower generation and Iran as of currently is heavily dependent on its shrinking water supplies.

The cities of Iran are expected to experience a catastrophic water crisis in the next 10 years… and the most heartbreaking part is that we have already started to witness Iran’s drought.

How to help the Iranian citizens in Iran?

Please remember to first check in with your fellow Iranian friends, neighbors, and community. Offer them your full support.

If you’re unaware of what is going on and would like to learn more, we recommend you do more research. Keep asking questions and continue to read more. The more updated you are, the better.

Pray for them, continue to keep Iran in your thoughts. We need to all collectively come together and let them know we understand their frustration. Remember, water is a necessity, without access to water, many resources and personal lives are affected in indescribable ways.

Please arrange emotional and mental health support and hold a space where Iranian citizens are welcome to share how they feel. Not only are they going through a major water crisis but they are also experiencing the worst of COVID-19 right now.

If possible, students pursuing their education in psychology or the medical field to please offer their time and hold Zoom meetings, reach out to fellow Iranian citizens on social media. Your support would mean the world to them during this time.

Use hashtags! #SOSIran, #KhuzestanHasNoWater, #HelpIran, #SaveIran, #KhuzestanIsThirsty. One of the key reasons why we are asking you to use the hashtag #KhuzestanIsThirsty is because the protestors were shouting how thirsty they were, but their voices were silenced by the security forces and their shotguns. In the meantime, the least we can do is keep their words alive on social media and be the voice for them when the government is stopping them from sharing on social media.

Check out @middleeastmatters to stay updated and informed about Iran. They have a petition in their bio and pre-written tweet that you can send to officials, please check Middle East Matters (mideastmatters.carrd.co).

Keep tweeting, reposting posts about water shortage on social media. Spread awareness and have conversations, continue to educate others.

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