Water crises in Iran

Water crises in Iran
Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash

Author: Veronika Sherova 

Environment and Human Rights researcher,  

Global Human Rights Defense


The protests in Iran have drawn attention to the country's water problem. On July 15, unrest broke  out in the southwestern province of Khuzestan because of severe water shortages. Incited by a heat  wave with temperatures reaching 50 °C and the worst drought in more than half a century, the  protesters took to the streets. At least eight people were killed by Iranian security forces, according  to Amnesty International.  

Since the 1960s, the average temperature in Iran has risen by 2 °C, according to the Iranian  Meteorological Agency. In addition, rainfall has decreased by 20% over the past two decades.  Still, the lack of rain is a partial reason for the water shortages. The anger of the protesters is fueled 

by government mismanagement, particularly the construction of hydroelectric dams and  governmentally encouraged cultivation of water-intensive agricultural products. 

The drought is having a serious impact on people's lives, affecting households, agricultural  production and farming, among other things. Human rights are also threatened. The lack of water,  and therefore sanitation, leads to the spread of hygiene-related diseases, contributes to higher child  and maternal mortality rates, and leads to intragenerational poverty. As people are forced to leave  schools, flee their homes, abandon their jobs, farms and harvest, poverty perpetuates from one  generation to the next.  

Taking into account the universal need for action to combat climate change, governments must  implement a better management system. This includes protecting and restoring ecosystems,  supporting agricultural producers, promoting green energy, and enabling climate change  adaptation techniques. 

For further consideration: 

Climate Home News, July 2021, Drought and water mismanagement spark deadly protests in Iran,  https://www.climatechangenews.com/2021/07/28/drought-and-water-mismanagement-spark deadly-protests-in-iran/

BBC News, August 2021, Iran water: What's causing the shortages?  https://www.bbc.com/news/58012290

BBC News, August 2021, Finding answers to the world's drinking water crisis,  https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57847654;  

WHO, Fact sheet “Drinking water”, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking water

Amnesty International, July 2021, Iran: Security forces use live ammunition and birdshot to crush  Khuzestan protests, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/07/iran-security-forces-use live-ammunition-and-birdshot-to-crush-khuzestan-protests/.