Itinerant Water Supply and Drought

Iran, Drought water shortage, tanker

Khomeini promised to bring oil money to the Iranian homes. It did not happen. Today, with drought some can only afford to buy cans and wait water to come.

Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Guide of Iran says: Our goal is to establish a new Islamic civilisation. 

Is the itinerant water supply an encouraging sign for the Islamic civilisation?

As the population grows and the more water is wasted, the chaotic dam building combined with global warming dries up more water resources. Undoubtedly, this will lead to an irreversible desertification of the countryside in a shorter time than one could imagine. A pessimist is an optimist with experience.

A gloomy vision would be a map of Iran on which the overcrowded and unmanageable mega-cities are scattered in a forsaken landscape. Even in the absence of the most basic data, the most objective evidence is the speed by which some towns are growing and the eroded arable lands abandoned.

There is an urgent need to rationalise the use of resources. The water supply networks in towns, outgrown haphazardly and neglected for decades, need a major revamp to avoid leaks, guesstimated in the range of 30-50% in supplying water. Efficient policies should be implemented to tame heedless users squandering tap water. The offenders of the water pollution should be punished and the used water recycled.

These sentences are expressions of wishful thinking. There is no hint of any of these recommendations being implemented in a country that excels in dogmatism and insane performance far apart from pragmatism and rational thinking. The massive costs of the stubborn politics of the nuclear and missile development siphons the money off the country.

For now, water is in short supply and shortage is experienced all over the country: from the upmarket and lively areas of the north of Tehran to the unremarkable hamlets of the back country. If the urban areas where the state offices and the clergy do business are pampered, other areas are neglected.

In the media, the words used to talk about water shortage in the large urban areas, such as Tehran, are prudently chosen in a way that no hint of criticising the authorities can be detected: intangible water rationing and pressure drop (جیره بندی نامحسوس آب / افت فشار) are most frequently used to describe major urban water cuts.

We failed to understand the use of intangible.

The water is either cut or flows. The drop in water pressure could only mean that there is no water to cater for upper floors; a very tangible factor.

The local officials proudly talk about their ability to deliver water by tankers to the hundreds of rural communities where the water has dried up. If one adds up all the hundreds from all over the country, the total is well above thousands.

The Long Wait for a Tanker

The itinerant water supply, آبرسانی سیار, is the semi-official name of providing occasional water to the poor suburban areas and the deprived villages.

The itinerant water supply is a tanker that every so often visits a community and distributes drinking water to the locals.

Iran, Qom, itinerant water supply
Qom is the largest centre for Shiite teaching in the world. The itinerant water supply is the only mean of providing water to the nearby villages.

They queue up with containers to fill. In the pictures taken from the scenes of water being supplied, the only man present is the tank driver. Now and then, a couple of bored he-onlookers are playing with their rosary, watching the process unconcerned.

The women and children sit patiently cross-legged in dust, unprotected from the scorching sun for long hours for a water tanker to materialise inshallah. Then the heavy filled containers are taken back home, carried on foot.

This system is widespread throughout the country and is found in many villages. By using the fragile data provided in the media and blog posts, and accepting a tolerable average, we tried to have a guesstimate of the number of inhabitants affected by the water shortages and catered for by the tankers.

We have 31 provinces in Iran. According to the official sources, every year an average of 500 villages and hamlets, about 400 inhabitants in each on average, need the services of the itinerant water supply. Therefore, some 19 million Iranian citizens could be lacking water supplied by tankers. This is about a quarter of the total population, eighty million.

Parallel to the official undertaking of the itinerant water supply, for a fee, private companies also deliver it. These have mushroomed all over the country, mainly in the urban and suburban zones and the close-by rural sectors. They provide water to the building sites, and the inhabited sectors most affected by the cuts.

Iran,Water delivery for Swimming Pool
Water delivery for Swimming Pool.

Supplying water by smoky old tankers running on substandard diesel produces a large and depressing carbon footprint, adding to the air pollution.

However, there is more to this set-up than meets the eye. The private companies also provide water for the private swimming pools. Their ads aimed at townspeople read: The best supplier of water for your private swimming pool.

Who can afford a private swimming pool in stagnating economic conditions? To answer this it would help to better understand the country’s social fabric and where the Political and Islamist allegiance lies.

The Daily Journey to the Well

In 1979, Khomeini bashed the Shah for spoiling the public revenue and promised that after the Revolution the oil money would be brought to each and every Iranian home.

It did not happen. Today, many in the countryside can only afford to buy plastic cans and wait for the drinking water to come, not the oil money. The luckier ones, those who still have free access to a natural supply of water, use their leg muscles, and fetch it pedibus cum jambis.

Mazeh-Lir, a village populated by Lors in the Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, in the West of Iran, is in want of water, electricity and gas; roads and infrastructures are scarce. Its people are born illiterate and die illiterate.

Children and women, young and old, fetch their daily water with a donkey or on foot. Men, young and old, spend the day doing a little farming (unproductive) and longer hours doing nothing. In the meantime in Tehran billions are spent backing their brother in arms, Bashar Al-Assad, with some more billions provided for the Shiite soldiers, the Qods army, sent to the Western provinces and Iraqi borders to fight the Kurds.

The Shiite pilgrims, subsidised by the clergy, are the soft occupation army visiting Karbala and Najaf in Iraq or the Shrine of Zeinab in Damascus. They are well provided for by various Islamic offices when they travel across the towns and villages of the Zagros mountains and beyond to reach their destination.

One of Many: Mazeh-Lir

Mazeh-Lir is another emblem of the fiasco of the Islamic Glorious Revolution. A Glory that finds its expression in the martyr’s blood and death, not providing the minimal necessity for the living.

In his email relaying the information on Mazeh-Lir, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, our correspondent cynically commented:

If these pictures were taken in the occupied Palestine, the Iranian propagandists would have had made the most of it by condemning the hostile actions of the Zionist predators (Israel) and their international supporters. Since it concerns Lors in a backward province, it goes unnoticed by the general public. If, by chance, it is publicly talked about, then the authorities would make a grand show of praising the patience and resilience (صبر, شکیبایی) of the people. They would also express how they feel true sorrow for these poor people. (برای این مردم مظلوم غصّه میخوریم). End of the story.

Water Crisis  and Pollution in Iran

Environment A Time Bomb

Building Dams, A Sacred Mission

Next posts:

Agricultural Jihad: Strive for Amateurism!

Waste, Sewage Broth on Display

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Also, please read articles in French or Farsi sections. They are not the translated posts from English.

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Albertine Ahmadi

I was born and grew up in an Iranian province. I question whether the Iranian mentality grasps the basic principles of democracy.