Water crisis drives Kurdish women to seek out mountain springs

    25 Jul 2021

    With one of the hottest and driest periods in recent years, the villages in the Kurdistan province of Iran face a severe shortage of clean drinking water. The increase in demand for electrical energy causing widespread power outages, further worsening the situation, Rudaw reports.

    Gulabakh Jamali, 42, is forced to wake up at 5:00 in the morning to bring water from the nearby villages’ springs to provide for her family. She is forced to take that path up to ten times a day to get through this challenging season, which is the hottest and driest of the year.

    In the eastern part of Gulaneh village, 15 kilometers away from Divandarreh city in the Kurdistan Province in western Iran, a group of women and children are standing by an old spring with their colorful bottles to fill them up with water. A routine they repeat a couple of times during this period.

    This ancient spring and a few other places around the village are the only sources of Gulaneh’s drinking water. This is the biggest village in the Saral district of Divandarreh and has a population of 200 families.

    Despite receiving drinking water from tanker trucks every couple of days, the water is rarely welcomed due to its poor quality.

    “I was born and married in this village; now I am the mother of three children. I have never seen a dry year like this,” Gulabakh Jamali, 42, tells Rudaw English annoyedly, her Kurdish dress pulled up a little bit so that it doesn’t get wet.

    “Like most women here, I have to wake up at 5 in the morning to provide drinking water for my family due to a lack of drinking water. As we are in the farming season, women have more work on their shoulders, wash more clothes, and need more water. Sometimes we even have to send our children to bring water,” added Jamali, fixing her headscarf.

    “Although the climate of the area is cold and the Siyazakh dam two kilometers from our house, due to negligence on the part of the officials, we have to suffer to provide drinking water.”

    “We have water pipes at home, but the quality is so bad, I’m repulsed to use it for washing anything. The tanker trucks bring drinking water to the village every few days, but the quality is not good, and the people do not use it.”

    Providing drinking water for 100 villages with tankers

    “Due to the drought and the lack of rain this year, unlike any other year, the water in the dams in the province has decreased. As a result, this has created problems for some villages, so we send drinking water to around 100 villages with tanker trucks,” the public relations department of the water and sewage office in Kurdistan province told Rudaw English.

    They reiterated that “the quality of the cities’ water has no problem.” Still, Rudaw English has learned that most of Sanandaj city residents are not satisfied with their drinking water, which is why they take to the springs around the city to get drinking water.

    “Sanandaj’s water has such a poor taste and smell it’s undrinkable, so I don’t know how officials can claim its quality is good,” said Masoud Kaki, 42, a Sanandaj resident as he was getting water in the foothills of Mount Awyer.

    Power outage frustrates citizens

    Water shortages are not the only concern citizens have in Iran and the Kurdistan province. Still, from the beginning of this high-temperature season, power outages have frustrated residents and caused many problems.

    “For someone with disabilities like me, power outages are very problematic. Two days ago, I waited in front of the door to take the elevator for two hours until the power returned. My apartment is on the sixth floor, and I can’t take the stairs,” Sasan Ahmedi, 33, resident of Shalman street in Sanandaj told Rudaw English.

    Power outages have also affected vendors and workers. Kawa Tari, a 21-year-old vendor who has a food store in Sanandaj’s bazaar, told Rudaw English, “due to electricity outages, some of our supplies, like the dairy products, go bad, and we have to throw them away – we only have two hours [of electricity] a day sometimes.”

    “I have been throwing those things away that get bad due to lack of electricity for a few days now. This will make us suffer many losses if it continues like this, I will have to close down the store. We had enough economic problems, and lack of income, lack of electricity has also added to it,” added Tari.

    Drought and digital currency – the leading cause for the lack of power

    In addition to people’s anger, power outages have also led to demonstrations in front of the power distribution office. Still, Iranian officials blame these issues on drought, rising temperatures, and the production of digital currencies such as Bitcoin.

    “Due to this year’s drought, which Iran has had nothing like it in the past 50 years, power production has decreased, the rise in temperatures also started sooner compared to the previous years, the use of electricity has increased by 22 percent compared to last year,” Rezah Ardakanian, Iran’s Minister of Energy said in a report to parliament on May 30.He also mentioned the production of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, which are mainly being produced illegally, is another reason for the power outages in Iran this year.

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