The Iranian people are facing a challenging water situation, as the results of environmental mismanagement over the course of the last 40 years hits home. For many individuals, this means facing the reality that there is not enough water to go around. While the country sits on a wealth of energy from its gas and oil, the average Iranian is dealing with either a lack of water or poor water quality.
On Friday, April 13, Isfahan province farmers protested the water mismanagement by the Iranian regime. In social networking films, the protesters chanted that the Iranian regime is the enemy. It was also noteworthy that there were a number of women involved in the protest. Riot forces were also present with riot gear to deal with the protests, a standard repressive response from the regime against any form of protest.
At Friday’s prayer, the Imam of Isfahan accused the protesters of creating an insurgency based on false accusations of not having enough water. He noted that they had been paid in exchange for their fair share of water.
However, the farmers paint a different picture, one where the unauthorized use of water in upstream areas of the Zayandehrood River, as well as the development of industry throughout Isfahan and Yazd have essentially eradicated agriculture in the eastern region of Isfahan.
How bad is the water crisis in Iran? That depends on who you ask. For the regime, the official line is that there is no crisis. They point to the historical fact that the area is naturally a drier climate. Yet, there is an increased demand for this limited resource based on uncontrolled development, intensive agriculture, mass tourism, and over-population. It becomes an increasing interrelated problem that impacts the social, economic, and natural aspects of everyday life.
A lack of strong political will to protect this resource, particularly in Iran, has resulted in a decrease in water quality, which now threatens the ecosystems and human health. According to a detailed analysis of the region, water stress is not limited to just a lack of water, but also the demand for freshwater exceeds the renewable supply, the available water is being polluted by the volume of human, industrial, and agricultural wastes, and the same water is desired simultaneously by different sectors within a society or whatever flows across an international border.
In order to address the water crisis, there needs to be a resolution that focuses on quantity, quality, and equity. Yet, the Iranian people are protesting because they recognize that the regime is not focused on addressing these issues.
The people are aware of the grave threat the regime poses to them. Iran is known for its repressive measures on its people, but also the impact of the regime throughout the region, as it attempts to spread its fundamentalism. Millions outside of the borders of Iran have been impacted as a result.
The Iranian regime is persecuting and imprisoning environmental activists, even as other countries are focused in on delivering their environmental resources to the next generation in better shape. It is too much to expect a government that represses the rights of its citizens to care about putting a proper environmental policy in place.
“As a people, along with the Iranian resistance, we are calling for the reclamation, protection, and improvement of Iran’s natural ecosystems, and asking all entities who care about a better and sustainable world ecosystem to assist in us achieving this goal,” said Khalil Khani, a human rights activist.
The MPs of Iran have expressed fears of a protest and uprising by the people, especially in Isfahan and Kerman.
“Now five million people from July on, have no water to drink in Isfahan…They are steering the low-quality water from the well to the water network. What can we do for five million thirsty people? This is an emergency situation,” said Hosseinali Haji MP.
Ahmad Hamze, another MP, noted that if the water crisis is not solved, “people are going to come to the streets.”
For the Iranian people, the reality of the regime’s mismanagement is coming home to roost, and the results could be an uprising that they can no longer suppress.