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Wednesday, 20 June, 2001, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Farmers quit Iran drought villages
Dried-up lake bed
There are serious water shortages in eight provinces
Severe drought in central Iran has forced the inhabitants of 100 villages to pack up and leave their homes in search of water.

The news comes as Iranian officials warn of nationwide water rationing unless consumers cut consumption.


Water resources have run dry and the cattle perished

Kerman province governor
This is the third year running that Iran has been hit by drought, leading to widespread fears about damage to agriculture and the economy.

The governor of Kerman province in central Iran told the official IRNA news agency that residents in the villages had left or were doing so.

"Water resources in 100 villages have run dry and the cattle perished. We are arranging camps for the evacuees," Governor Fayez Farrokhi said.

'Nothing to live on'

"Agriculture and animal-husbandry have been the only source of income for these villagers. Now they have nothing to live on," the governor added

Deputy Energy Minister Qolam-Reza Manuchehri has said the water situation has reached "a critical state".

Shortages were serious in eight of Iran's 28 provinces, including Tehran and Kerman, affecting 25 million people.

Despite the shortages, Iran is reported to be still considering exporting fresh water to Kuwait.

The Kuwaiti cabinet has approved a $2bn pipeline project to bring water from the Karkeh dam in western Iran.

But Reza Bakhtiari, an official from Iran's energy ministry, downplayed concerns about the project.

"In any case, the project is merely theoretical. If we have a water problem, we won't realise the project," he said.

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See also:

05 Jun 01 | Middle East
Iran drought hits rice farmers
03 Aug 00 | Middle East
Iran facing drought catastrophe
31 Jul 00 | South Asia
Taleban blames Afghans for drought
11 May 00 | Middle East
Drought raises food fears
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