The residents of a small town in Mashahr County, Khuzestan have reported having just one hour of running water a day.
Protests broke out in Khuzestan mid-July over severe water shortages across the province. In the dilapidated town of Taleghani, families told Asr-e Iran newspaper they have been under severe water stress for 15 years.
The report, published on Thursday, July 29, stated: “They say the water runs for just an hour a day. Of course, the water that enters the pipes is mixed with sewage. But they use it.”
The town is 120km from the provincial capital of Ahvaz. It is still known locally by its pre-1979 name of Al-Koureh, or “the kilns”, because many locals used to work in brick kilns used by construction firms and nearby ports.
Now the work has dried up, and with it many households’ chief means of subsistence. Families told Asr-e Iran they had been reduced to sleeping crammed into one room, and ate substantial foods like chicken just once every two months.
“Taleghani town... seems to have been forgotten,” the reporter lamented. “A town that’s very old but does not have the bare minimum facilities for living.
“The streets are not paved, the open air is sedimentary, and construction debris are left in the alleys... There are also voltage fluctuations and power outages. More than 100 households use an electric transformer.”
Food and water poverty, and woefully inadequate living conditions, are just part of the problem. One man told Zan-e Rooz that his child was due to have an operation in a few days’ time but “I have no money. I’m unemployed; only local people help us.”
Iran’s Second-Biggest Wealth Creator is Left to Founder
The situation in Taleghani is emblematic of the dismal contradiction that runs the length of Khuzestan: the province is a vital contributor to the Iranian economy, but also one of its most deprived.
In a new report, independent researchers at Iran Open Data assessed that out of Iran’s 31 provinces, Khuzestan alone is responsible for 80 percent of oil production and close to 20 percent of gas production.
Taking an average oil price of $70 per barrel of crude, and a conservative $3 per 1,000 ft3 of gas, researchers calculated that based on the National Iranian South Oil Company’s figures Khuzestan produced an average of $263,701,968 worth of oil and gas every day between 2016 and 2019 or 71 percent of the nationwide total. In an average year, Khuzestan’s oil and gas production was valued at almost $100bn.
In 2019 alone, Khuzestan, which also has a comparatively small population, produced 15.1% of Iran’s GDPD: a proportion second only to that of Tehran.
Despite its value, some 16.7 percent of residents of this fertile province on the Iran-Iraq border are living below the absolute poverty line.
Even according to official statistics, Khuzestan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. And in towns like Taleghani, families are living crammed into single rooms with barely so much as enough clean water to live.