Protests in the Iranian city of Isfahan erupted yesterday due to a severe shortage of water, as the region continues to suffer from a year of low rainfall and drought.
Thousands of farmers and others who supported them took to the streets in Isfahan in central Iran yesterday, expressing their dissatisfaction at the water shortages and urging the government to solve the crisis. They shouted "let Isfahan breathe again, revive Zayandeh Rud," referring to the dried river which supplies their crops with water.
In response to the protests, Iran's energy minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian apologised for the shortages. "I apologise to all of our dear farmers, and I feel ashamed for not being able to provide the water needed for their crops. With God's help, I hope we can overcome these shortcomings in the next few months," he told state TV.
The water shortages and the drying of the river come at a time when the region is suffering from a similar shortage, as rainfall has been low and temperatures have increased to make it one of the hottest and driest years recorded.
The protests yesterday also comes after major street protests broke out in July this year over water shortages in the south-western province of Khuzestan, in which a number of protestors were shot by the police.
Neighbouring Iraq and Syria have also been expressed concern over the shortage of water this year, with Baghdad having requested Damascus in August for an increase its supply of water.
The drying up of the Zayandeh Rud river has not only been caused by drought, however, but also by the government's diversion of water from the river to supply other areas and with a pipeline supplying water to Yazd province also having been damaged. Those incidences have contributed to the farms being left dry and the famers' livelihoods being threatened.
Earlier this month, a major reservoir in Syria also dried up completely, and was similarly due to a combination of climatic and structural causes.