Concerns are growing among Ahwazi Arab citizens in Falahya city as the outbreaks of respiratory and skin diseases are increasing. These diseases are caused by the discharging of toxic and contaminated wastewater from industrial complexes. The complexes include Sugar Cane projects which discharge toxic waste water into water courses of Karoon and Jarrahi rivers which are used as drinking and washing source by the Ahwazi Arab people.
The Ahwazi environment activists who did not want to be named said that “the environmental conditions have been exacerbated for Ahwazi Arabs due to acute increase in the air pollution intensity when people cannot walk without putting on mask in the street. Last year, at the beginning of autumn, around 20,000 Ahwazi Arab citizens were admitted to hospitals and clinic centers as a result of respiratory disorders within one day but the phenomenon is not briefed here as water-borne diseases such as cholera and Infectious skin diseases broke out in the region causing the condition to get worse than ever”.
They added that “people in Falahya city have lost their access to clean water for drinking and washing because of water contamination with perilous substances and high level of salinity. They also indicated that per month about more than 500 cases with water-borne illnesses and diarrhea incidents are reported in Falahya hospital. In this case, Arab children who attend schools have the highest percentage of diarrhea, cholera and other water-borne diseases due to lack of potable water for drinking and hand-washing adding to absence of sanitation facilities in schools. But, the authorities have not shown any commitment for addressing this dire humanitarian condition and improving the water equality and also constructing basic sanitation facilities like toilets in schools”.
In the meantime, there has been a noticeable dryness of marshes like Falahya wetlands due to Iran’s malicious and deliberate policy. Their policy has been implemented through huge water-diversion projects. In addition, oil drilling in the heart of the wetland has caused widespread oil spills which had devastating effects on the wetlands.
This environmental crisis has also taken its toll on economic sector including agriculture sector which has been hit hard due to shortage of water caused by long-term drought, excessive dam constructions on rivers and water diversion from rivers and pumping it to central Persian regions in Iran.
In an interview with farmers from Falahya city, they said that “large hectares of our cropland have been destroyed because of restrictions in accessibility to water for irrigation”. “We have lost means for living”, “we have no income to feed our children”, “and our lands are destroyed because of water crisis”.
One of the farmers said that “my land used to be my breath but now I have lost it which means I can neither feed my family member nor my animals like cow and sheep which need fodder and barely every day”. “No water, no land and no livestock can be interpreted of our life destruction”; he said.