The ongoing water crisis in Iran’s Ahwaz region looming towards disaster


Written byRahim Hamid :

This image shows three water buffalos whose skin are melted down due to high temperatures, high salinity of water and water scarcity in the marshlands of Ahwaz region in the background. A female Ahwazi farmer puts her hands up in exasperation on a barren farm. Photo by Mehr News Agency, published with the intention to redistribute.

Despite the Iranian establishment’s long-standing efforts to block media information, awareness is steadily increasing about the horrendous and rapidly worsening water crisis in the traditionally Arab region of Ahwaz in the south and south-west of the country. To observers without knowledge of the situation, it may seem that this escalating catastrophe is a natural disaster resulting from climate change.

However, those familiar with these policies know that successive governments have instituted a massive program of dam-building and river diversion in the region to redirect the water from its once-bounteous rivers to other, non-Arab areas of Iran. These policies have had inevitable results – desertification and mass migration of the Ahwazis to other areas of Iran or to other nations simply to survive.

The Ahwazi people see this dam and river program, not as the result of incompetence but as part of a deliberate, long-term calculated policy of ethnic cleansing intended to change the demographic balance in the region, which is home to over 95 percent of the oil and gas resources claimed by Iran. The aim, in this view, is to force out most of the Arabs and end their claim to sovereignty or ownership of their resources. In the process, natural habitats, wildlife, crops, and farm animals are suffering horrendously, with environmentalists warning of ecological catastrophe if these problems are not addressed.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.