As lakes become deserts, drought is Iran’s new problem

Iranian boys sit on the roof of a mud-house in the village of Adimi situated in the once exceptional wetlands of Lake Hamoon, now sand-baked earth

Nazar Sarani’s village in southeast Iran was once an island. It is now a desert, a casualty of the country’s worsening water crisis.

“We live in the dust,” said the 54-year-old cattle herder of his home in the once exceptional biosphere of Lake Hamoun, a wetland of varied flora and fauna, which is now nothing but sand-baked earth.

Climate change, with less rainfall each year, is blamed, but so too is human error and government mismanagement.

Iran’s reservoirs are only 40 percent full according to official figures, and nine cities including the capital Tehran are threatened with water restrictions after dry winters.

The situation is more critical in Sistan-Baluchistan, the most dangerous area in Iran, where a Sunni minority is centred in towns and villages that border Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Only 15 years ago, Hamoun was the seventh largest wetland in the world, straddling 4,000 square kilometres (1,600 square miles) between Iran and Afghanistan, with water rolling in from the latter’s Helmand river.

But with dams since built in Afghanistan as well as other blocked pathways holding back the source of Hamoun’s diversity, the local economy has collapsed.

Some 3,000 families whose lifeline was fishing have left and young people head to other provinces for work…

See also this piece from last year.