Over the past few days, the Iranian cities of Shahr-e Kord and Hamedan have witnessed major protests due to water scarcity. Videos published on social media have revealed the dimensions of the disaster, with hospitals and other major public health services being severely hit by this crisis. As these cities are considered two of the most important water catchment centers of Iran, in theory, they should not be facing any water scarcity.
To understand the water stress crisis, we should explain first the word crisis. Experts say, “A crisis is a situation in which a system or parts of it are disrupted (or threatened to be disrupted) and sudden or destructive changes in one or more basic system variables cause the instability of the entire system.”
This water stress crisis has now impacted various levels in around 272 cities across Iran, has disrupted the daily life of the people, and is endangering their health.
Depriving people of safe drinking water will cause the transmission of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, polio, hepatitis A and diarrhea. This disaster has occurred due to the Iranian regime’s policies, and a regime who are lacking in providing the people with safe and clean potable water.
The Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) explained water stress as follows, “Water stress or scarcity occurs when demand for safe, usable water in a given area exceeds the supply. On the demand side, the vast majority—roughly 70 percent—of the world’s freshwater is used for agriculture, while the rest is divided between industrial (19 percent) and domestic uses (11 percent), including for drinking. On the supply side, sources include surface waters, such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, as well as groundwater, accessed through aquifers.”
Does the question remain as to what is causing this water scarcity? According to experts in this field, water scarcity is often divided into two categories: physical scarcity, when water scarcity exists due to local ecological conditions; and economic scarcity, when there is insufficient water infrastructure. The two often come together to create water stress.
Experts have stated that even when there are some natural causes for a region’s water stress, like global warming, whereby for every 1 C increase in the global average temperature, this causes a 20 percent drop in renewable water resources. However, human factors have clearly played the main role in this problem, by not providing clean water and safe sanitation.
Mark Giordano, an expert on water management at Georgetown University in the U.S., said, “Almost always, the drinking water problem has nothing to do with physical water scarcity. It has to do with the scarcity of financial and political wherewithal to put in the infrastructure to get people clean water.”
The main human factor in Iran is the regime’s priorities, projects that not only do not benefit the people but are also against the people’s interests. These include the nuclear projects or missile and drone programs, the malign activities in the region, the financing of proxy forces, and the spread of terrorism, which all cost a lot of money and wastes the national capital in the process.
Of course, when service provision and the welfare and comfort of the people are not a priority, the result will be a crisis of water stress and scarcity.
Atabak Jafari, the CEO of the regime’s Water and Wastewater Engineering Company, said that 272 cities are facing water stress and that the number of villages that need mobile water supply has increased greatly in summer.
According to him, in May of this year, 4,953 villages in the country were covered by mobile water supply, but this increased to 6,000 to 7,000 villages in the summer months. Anoushirvan Mohseni Bandapi, the head of the Center for Air Quality and Climate Change, has recently said that by 2040, Iran’s water stress will likely exceed 80%.
According to the Hamshahri newspaper, currently, the provinces of Sistan and Baluchistan, Tehran, Khuzestan, Khorasan Razavi, East Azerbaijan, and Alborz respectively have the highest water stress in Iran, while around 53% of the country’s dam capacity is empty.