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Ahwaz is thirsty!

Water shortages and high levels of water salinity continue to plague the Ahwazi Arab region, according to the latest Iranian media reports.

The Al-Ghadir water pipeline, which was supposed to bring fresh water to the mostly Arab population in the region, has yet to be completed years after it was started. The Al-Ghadir water pipeline project is said to be unfinished due to a lack of funding, although the region produces more oil than Kuwait and the UAE combined. The head of the project Abdulsamad Raeeisi told ISNA that in Phase 2 the pipeline is supposed to extend to Ahwaz Sity, Susangerd (Khafajyeh) and Shadegan (Falahyeh), with Phase 3 consisting of an underground pipeline to take water from the Dez river.

Shawoor, an area with more than 65,000 people, is one of the most disadvantaged. Villages such as Migren 1, 2 and 3, Shamkhi, and Shnain Hussein do not have access to clean water, despite being located only a few hundreds meters from the heavily polluted Karkheh river. Some complain they have not had access to potable water for over 30 years, while many villages have only two hours access to mains water every day.

The villages of Shoush (Susa) district are also suffering from the lack of clean water, in spite of being surrounded by the Shawoor, Dez and Karkeh rivers. Shoush has 219 villages of which 64 have no drinking water. Over the whole province, 1,118 of a total of 4,015 villages have no access to clean water and a further 302 rely on water storage tanks. However, the Iranian authorities have refused to act to help these Arab-populated areas. Residents blame the Karkeh dam for the dramatic decrease in the water level in the rivers, which has come alongside a deterioration in water quality.

Member of parliament for Andimeshk (Salhiyeh) city, Saeed Ali Daraiee, said that many villages do not have electricity, roads or access to clean water. He claimed that the situation was bad even during times of strong government finances, but the economic crisis has made matters worse with no hope of developing basic public services.

Member of parliament for Abadan, Mohammad Saeed Ansari, said : "While the city is surrounded by water, local residents have no access to clean water. It has been more than 10 months since the mains water pipeline broke but there has been no serious remedy. And during summer people have to survive without water in temperatures of 60C."

A newly elected member of Ahwaz City municipal council, Ghoulam Reza Sabz Ali, claimed the city's development is retarded with a lack of basic infrastructureMeanwhile, the head of the farming authority in Hendijan, Kambiz Mohseny, has warned that the high level of water salinity in the Zohreh river is endangering farming. Poor water quality was also recently raised as a concern by the Committee of Monitoring Transmitted Diseases at the Ahwaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences. Scientist Dr Bakhtiari Nia remarked that water- and food-born diseases are getting worse as a result of poor water quality and a lack of access to clean water and a healthy diet.