Iran is facing its harshest drought in the last 50 years, and nearly half the country’s population will soon face water shortages, according to the country’s Energy Ministry.
“334 cities with 35 million people across Iran are currently struggling with water stress,” said Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian April 21 in a speech to top members of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, reported by US Government funded Radio Farda.
Classifying cities in three different categories, Ardakanian explained, “165 cities with 10.5 million people are in yellow, 62 cities with 6.8 million are in orange, and 107 cities with 17.2 million residents are in a red alert situation across Iran.”
Voice Of America (VOA), a US government funded broadcaster, has reported ongoing water-related protests by workers and farmers in Iran in recent weeks.
Workers in Iran’s southwestern province of Khuzestan have launched an extended protest against water shortages and nonpayment of wages according to the broadcaster, quoting social media users who contacted “VOA Persian” saying that farmers from the town of Bavi protested for a third straight day outside a local government building in nearby Ahvaz city on April 23. They said the farmers complained of not receiving enough water to irrigate their crops.
“Meanwhile, social media activists reported a second consecutive day of protests by municipal irrigation workers in the town of Hamidiyeh on (April 23)”, VOA reports.
On April 17, Voice of America reported that “Iranian authorities have begun to crack down on days of protests against water shortages in Iran’s third largest city of Isfahan”, again citing social media reports “monitored by VOA Persian and identified as filmed in Isfahan’s eastern district of Khorasgan…Iranian police can be heard firing into the air as an officer using a megaphone tells protesters that their gathering is illegal and they must disperse”.