Water-related protests in Iran turned violent last week, leaving eleven people injured in the city of Abadan. The demonstrations began peacefully, with residents calling for improvements to the area’s tainted tap water, but ended in clashes with security forces. In March and April, water shortages sparked similar protests in rural areas of central and western Iran. The demonstrations are taking place amid one of the country’s worst droughts on record.
“Although Iran has a history of drought, over the last decade, Iran has experienced its most prolonged, extensive and severe drought in over 30 years.” –A recent report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. According to many farmers and residents, the dry spell is worsened by poor water management.
By The Numbers
97 percent Proportion of Iran that is experiencing some level of drought, based on data from the Islamic Republic of Iran Meteorological Organization.
40 percent Proportion of Iran that is experiencing severe drought.
11 People hurt in last week’s protests over dirty, salinated water flowing from taps in Abadan and surrounding towns. The injured included one civilian and 10 police officers.
75 Iranian cities where protests were held in late December and early January. The protests, which involved thousands of arrests and more than two dozen deaths, were mainly spurred by economic inequality and alleged corruption, but analysts believe poor water access also played a role in some demonstrations.
On The Radar
Iranian protests directly related to water shortages have been relatively small and rural, but water access is poised to become a larger issue if drought persists. Currently, the country’s water outlook is grim, with government data predicting declines in surface water, groundwater, and rainfall in the next decade.
Resources and Further Reading
In context reporting from Circle of Blue:
HotSpots H2O, February 12: Spotlight on Drought and Unrest in Iran
Tehran Faces Crisis As Iran’s Water Supply Runs Low
Angered by Water Shortages, Iranians March for 3rd Day (Voice of America)
Gunfire, clashes amid Iran protests over water scarcity (The Washington Post)
Iran calls for calm after water protests, clashes (Reuters)
Water crisis spurs protests in Iran (Reuters)
Water shortage, pollution spark fresh protests in Iran’s Abadan (Al Jazeera)
Kayla Ritter is a recent graduate of Michigan State University, where she studied International Relations and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She is currently based in Manton, Michigan. Kayla enjoys running, writing, and traveling. Contact Kayla Ritter