Iran: paralyzed by environmental neglect

Nature and Environment

Dust cloud with toxic particles

In Ahwaz, the instruments that monitor pollution from particulates were out of action for days. "Within hours, there was dust everywhere. Suddenly, I had red spots on my whole body. My skin felt like it was on fire and I was hospitalized," Rosita told DW. She is a teacher in Khuzestan, the capital of a province rich in oil.

Nature and Environment

Burnt-out neighbor

Sandstorms have become a nightmare for people in southern Iran. For eight years the storms have constantly increased in intensity, and spread toxic particles. Iranian politicians claim they come from neighboring country Iraq. There, 35 years of constant war have left date palm forests burnt, agriculture ruined, and the air full of chemicals.

Nature and Environment

Poor water management

Iranian politicians like to call their country an "island of stability" in the Middle East, but especially when it comes to environmental issues, things do not look good. Climate change and poor water management have led to 80 percent of the country's most important lakes drying up. These areas are the most significant contributors to dust pollution. The Karun river in Ahwaz is also drying up.

Nature and Environment

Becoming uninhabitable

In spite of all this, Iran has no strategy to protect the environment. In January, the German "Heinrich Böll Foundation" published a report on water shortages in Iran. 160 pages are dedicated to describing the country's massive environmental problems. "The pressing water shortage is threatening to make vast areas of land uninhabitable in the future," the report warns.

Nature and Environment

Power cuts disrupt the oil- industry

The sandstorm in Khuzestan caused massive disturbances in the electric power supply. The consequences were immense. The oil-industry in Khuzestan was temporarily at a standstill. 750,000 barrels of crude oil are produced in this province every day. The oil industry's revenues make up a large part of the Iranian national budget. A representative from Khuzestan warned of a national crisis.

Nature and Environment

Rohani under pressure

Conservative politicians accuse Hassan Rohani's government of not having the situation under control. In turn, Rohani blames his predecessor Mahmud Ahmadinejad for the impending environmental catastrophe. During his presidency, Ahmadinejad accused the West of having caused the drought in Iran - as part of a "sinister plan to undermine the Islamic Republic."

Nature and Environment

Powerless environmental protection agency

The revolutionary guard is not only a military power with its own contingent of army, airforce, navy, special forces for foreign missons or the voluntary militia Basidsch. They are also an economic force in Iran. Their economic division Khatam al-Anbiya builds streets, tunnels, pipelines and dams. Many dams are built only of earth - without consulting the environmental authorities.

Nature and Environment

Dam collapse? Fake News!

In February, a dirt dam collapsed in the southern Iranian province of Fars. 700 houses were destroyed and more than 2,000 other buildings damaged. At first, the provincial director-general for crisis management disclaimed reports about the incident. The pictures on social media were claimed to be fakes.

Nature and Environment

Official lack of responsibility

Nobody accepts responsibility for this mismanagement, or for the delay in carrying out rescue missions in the province. A lack of crisis management turns into a management crisis.

Iranian politicians like to refer to their country as an "island of stability" in the Middle East. But the country has severe environmental problems, and nobody feels responsible - with wide-reaching consequences.