Hundreds protest lack of water in Iran's drought-hit west

Iran has for years suffered chronic dry spells and heat waves that are expected to worsen with climate change. PHOTO: AFP

TEHERAN (AFP) - Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in western Iran over a lack of drinking water and the inability of officials to solve the problem, state media said on Thursday (Aug 25).

Iran, a largely arid country, has for years suffered chronic dry spells and heat waves that are expected to worsen with climate change.

In the past few months, thousands of people angry over the drying up of rivers have been driven to protest, particularly in central and southwestern Iran.

Around 200 people gathered in front of the governor's office in Hamadan on Wednesday evening "to protest against the interruption of the urban water network", the state news agency IRNA said.

They were later joined by "several hundred people" in what was a second successive night of protests over water shortages in the western city, IRNA reported.

The demonstrators "held empty water bottles in their hands", shouted "slogans against the officials" and "demanded urgent action to provide drinking water to the city", it added.

Dozens of people, including women, could be seen calling on fellow citizens to "show their courage" and take part in the demonstration, according to a video published on Thursday by Hamshahri newspaper.

Parts of Hamadan had been "experiencing water cuts for eight days", leading to demands from the protesters for the resignation of the governor and "incompetent officials", the daily added.

In mid-July, police arrested several suspects for disturbing security after they demonstrated against the drying up of Lake Urmia, in Iran's northwestern mountains.

Over the past decade, Iran has also endured regular floods, a phenomenon made worse when torrential rain falls on sun-baked earth.

At the end of July, the lives of 96 people were lost in more than a week of flooding in several regions of Iran, including dozens near Teheran, according to authorities.

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