Flooding in Estahban region, Fars province, central Iran
Heavy flooding and landslide have devastated Iran’s landscape for the past two weeks. It has caused many lives and economic damages across the country. First, started in southern and southwestern provinces as monsoons from the Indian Ocean entered the country, which had taken lives and heavy economic toll on Fars province. Then, flooding continued to devastate more provinces, now 27 of them.
Every warning about torrent rains was in place. The Iran National Meteorological Organization has predicted the coming rainfall, hail, and flash floods, however, the acting organization didn’t consider it very serious or manipulated the severity of the warnings. This situation along with other serious shortcomings, and mismanagement set the stage for mass casualties and tremendous losses. Devastating flooding, loss of lives and people’s livelihoods are repeating scenes that man is witnessing in recent years in Iran.
Once, a catastrophic incident such as this happens around the world, even the most totalitarian regimes do all to save their citizens’ lives and minimize economic damages. However, the clerical regime ruling Iran leaves people defenseless in situations like this, the responsible parties are totally absent or the authorities satisfy themselves by taking pictures in tuxedos among the mud and devastation.
Floods are annually causing the loss of many lives and a tremendous amount of economic damages. They are unavoidable natural phenomena caused by large surges of water in a short period of time, making the established drainage system unable to handle them. They are also, the most frequent form of natural disasters and are among the costliest to both human lives and properties. Worldwide, the economic damage from flooding has been substantial.
The above statement taken into account, floods are natural phenomena and take place all around the world. Thus, there should be certain standard practices that governments are obliged and must perform on those circumstances. Iran’s clerical regime is certainly absent in all such situations.
Floods are defined as a temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas with an overflow of inland or tidal waters from the unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source or are caused by weather phenomena and events that deliver more precipitation to a watershed area than can it be readily absorbed or stored within a catchment.
Iran has historically been called the land of floods and droughts. Heavy rainfalls, sometimes in combination with snow melt, are the prime causes of floods, and flooding, and their frequency has increased in recent decades due to deforestation, overgrazing of rangelands, desertification, mismanagement of water resources, and lack of proper watershed management.
Flash floods, caused by heavy rainfall in a short period of time are the most dominant ones in Iran, which are spontaneous and most damage-causing. They are usually characterized by raging torrents after heavy rains that rip through river beds, urban streets, and canyons sweeping everything before them. The rainfall is normally not penetrated in soil, absorbed by vegetation, and runs off almost instantly, causing creeks, and drainage areas to flood much earlier and with a higher magnitude than normal.
Over the last decades and especially the past few years, Iran was doused with rain, which was unprecedented during the past fifty years, but last year, the country faced drought, which shows a 50% decrease in rainfall according to authorities’ data. Even now and on various occasions this year, different sections of the clerical regime have claimed water shortages to be imminent and serious. But once, once there is so much water in hand, the regime official is incapable of properly managing them and putting them to good use.
Extreme rainfalls over the past three years slowly made some experts announce that a wet spell will embrace the country and that Iran has entered a period of a wet spell after experiencing dry spells over the past few decades. Others were highly rejective of this claim, implying that the country faced an average 50 mm lack of rain over the past five decades.
Global climate disruption is the new term scientists are using to explain the extreme fluctuations that are influencing weather systems as anthropogenically caused carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere, the oceans get warmer, and weather events go wild. Climate disruption will be continuing as climate change is on the rise and it calls on taking proper and effective measures to alleviate the adverse effects of climate change. The above condition is exactly the reason for recent extreme weather and rainfall in Iran; monsoon humidity in the Indian Ocean, heat wave from the fire around the Mediterranean Sea, along with the cold front of Siberia.
Due to population growth, river banks and floodplains have been heavily urbanized, which makes them more prone to flooding. Urbanization generally brings in its misacts such as tarmac of concrete, impermeable substances that will increase surface runoff into the river, and therefore, increase the river’s discharge. Also, often comes in with deforestation, degradation of vegetation cover, infiltration reduction, and an increase of surface runoff into a riverbeds.
Flooding causes variety of problems ranging from the more immediately evident hazards, short term, and to long term ones. Immediate hazards are often the greatest, in terms of human life lost, resettlements, and economic devastations. They greatly increase the risks and spread of communicable diseases, such as typhoid fever and cholera. They are likely to spread during flooding due to possible contamination of water supplies, especially with sewerage. Floods may also be a source of vector-borne diseases, which spread by carriers, such as mosquitoes, which are spreaders of malaria. The sheer mass of water causes risks to anyone trapped in the affected area, from bursting gas pipes, collapsing structures, and drowning.
The long term effects of flooding are millions of dollars in damage to buildings, infrastructures, and people’s livelihoods, Economic instability is likely to follow after a major flood, loss of business, damage to livestock, and lots more. Food supplies are being destroyed and other economic losses may lead to widespread poverty and famine. Hence, the control of floods and management of those natural disasters are absolutely essential to the well-being of any community.
All descriptions declared in the above statements have happened and are happening today with all its consequences in Iran under the ruling of the clerical regime for more than four decades. They are not only great violators of human rights, but also, terminators of the country’s natural ecosystems, water resources, and in general natural resources. In every corner of the country, man can witness these devastations, which are managed and delegated by the influence of corrupt IRGC and major religious foundations under the Supreme Leader’s supervision.
Watershed management is a solution to strengthen the ecosystem in the face of subsequent droughts to control floods and penetrate rainfall into the ground. The overall purpose is to manage and create structures to eliminate water fluctuation periods and sustain uniform, manageable water regimes. Forests and ground protective vegetation cover effects consist of maintaining the ‘natural’ flow regime of rainfall, which inevitably controls flooding and creates low flows to which stream channels and associated biota were adjusted. Healthy forests and wetland systems provide a host of watershed services, including water purification, groundwater, surface flow regulation, erosion control, and stream bank stabilization. The importance of these watershed services will only increase as water quality becomes a critical issue around the globe. However, these actions are none existing or a matter of fantasy shows under the clerical rule in Iran.
* Khalil Khani is an Environmental Specialist and a Human Rights activist. He holds a Ph.D. in Ecology, Botany, and Environmental Studies from Germany and has taught at the University of Tehran and the Hesse State University in Germany. He is also a Doctor of Medical Psychology from the United States.