21st Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Victims of drought

81 year old Ismail Khajeh is a resident of Molla Ali village of Zabul. As a former fisherman, he wishes that one day the water will return to the lake so that people can fish with their boats in the water like before. Drought is one of the most important and common disasters caused by Atmosphere/Climatic changes that has affected different countries around the world. NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has announced that 45 countries will be exposed to drought in the next 30 years and it would probably last for the next 30 to 35 years. Due to its location in the northern hemisphere, Iran possess a hot and dry climate and is considered one of the least rainy countries in West Asia. The drought in the "Sistan and Baluchestan" province has caused the drying up of Hamon International Lake and Wetland, which is the third largest lake in Iran and the seventh international wetland in the world. Many reasons are associated to this catastrophe such as, the construction of various dams on the Hilmand River, the refuse of "Water Right" to "Hamun Lake" by the Afghan side and the instalation and overuse of pumps on the Afghan side of Hilmand River for agriculture applications, just to name a few. On the other hand, the reduction of seasonal rains due to global climate changes has led to the drying up of the "Hamun Lake". These days there are no signs of animal husbandry, agriculture, mat weaving and even fishing anymore, due to the harsh conditions in the region. Besides the shortage of water, the most concerning issue that threatens the livelihood of the local people is the "Haze" which is caused by extreme sand/dust storms. Haze is traditionally an atmospheric phenomenon in which dust, smoke, and other dry particulates suspended in air obscure visibility and the clarity of the sky. Due to the absence of water in base of the Wetlands, extreme sand/dust storms could emerge and as a result could generate incredible Sand Haze. These extreme sand storms which could be as fast as 90-120 Km per hour, have caused the burial of rural houses under sand, the death of livestock and ,numerous respiratory and heart diseases for the local people inhabiting the region. These sandstorms have also destroyed the fresh water wells for the few remaining farmlands which have barley survived the drought on the edge of Hamon International Wetland. In conclusion, drought has caused the migration of almost 50% of the people in this region and subsequently the escape of roughly 10,000 Iranian families from Zabul last year.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 11.2023
Date Uploaded: 11.2023
Photo Location: zabol,Sistan Baluchistan,iran, Iran
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Copyright: © younes khani