Hawa, a Casualty of Climate Change and Poverty in Iran

In mid-July, 2019, a crocodile attacked Hawa, a ten-year-old village girl in Sistan and Baluchestan, one of the driest and poorest provinces in Iran. Hawa’s village had been suffering from drought and lack of drinking water, forcing her to fetch water from the marsh nearby. Hawa returned home without water, and without her right arm. She became a recent casualty of climate change and poverty in her region.

 

In recent years, a prolonged drought has been accelerating the disappearance of wetlands in Sistan and Baluchestan. Every May, a vile hot wind, known as the Wind of 120 Days, wails across the thirsty flatlands of the region. Screaming heat evaporates the residual surface water. It worsens the drinking water shortage and deteriorates cultivation and all aspects of everyday life.

 

The drought has exacerbated the region’s poverty and left many areas close to uninhabitable. Some 53% of the residents of the province lived in poverty in 2016. Draught has only worsened the situation.

 

According to the governor-general, "an estimated 1,680 villages in Sistan-Baluchestan lack piped water". Nearly half of the villages in the province lack water supply networks. Tankers supply only limited water. The drinking water crisis has forced villagers to provide for their needs from ponds and marshes and share natural water sources with crocodiles and other animals. Many have suffered from infectious diseases and attacked by crocodiles. Children like Hawa have been among the primary victims.

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