Iranian Flood Victims Search for Clean Water


Iranian Flood Victims Search for Clean Water

The deadly flash floods that struck southern Iran in mid-January have left widespread infrastructure damage in its wake, uprooting more than 250,000 people in 933 villages. But families have not had time to mourn the loss of their homes and livestock, or begin cleanup efforts. For now, their attention is fully focused on what has emerged as the most critical aspect of this crisis: the lack of clean water available for drinking and cooking.  

A person can only survive for three days without water. To restore access to this most basic human need, Relief International’s teams have distributed 1,000 water purification kits to flood-stricken communities in southern Iran. Each kit can purify 1,000 liters of water, and families are being provided with jerry cans to encourage safe water transport and storage.

Only 23% of flood-affected areas in Iran currently have access to clean water. With safe sources in short supply, many families are gathering the floodwaters that surround them, risking an outbreak of disease.

Relief International is hosting education sessions to warn against the health dangers of drinking contaminated water. Flooding pollutes water sources, and can carry waterborne diseases such as typhoid fever and cholera. Standing water also creates breeding sites for mosquitoes, increasing the likelihood of vector-spread diseases such as malaria and dengue. The chance of an outbreak is heightened in areas where there is minimal water and sanitation infrastructure.

“Even before the floods struck, infrastructure and services were already limited. In many villages we didn’t see a single latrine,” said Azar Bohlooli, Relief International’s Senior Health Project Assistant. “We also observed children drinking water from ponds in which goats and other animals were bathing.”

Relief International’s sessions have been eagerly attended by members of the community as they seek to protect their families. There are separate sessions for men and women to ensure equal access to information. Azar says, “Community members are very keen to understand how to use the water purification tablets properly, as well as how to mitigate the risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases and of malaria in particular. We are clearly filling an important need.”

Our teams on the ground have also been assessing the functionality of markets in the affected areas, and are ready to distribute cash assistance to families in the most vulnerable situations. Cash assistance has proven to be one of the most effective ways to help people when disaster strikes, and empowers families to identify, prioritize, and purchase the items that meet their most pressing needs.


In the immediate aftermath of the floods, a young boy collects water from a puddle outside his home, severely heightening the risk of an outbreak of waterborne disease.

© RI

Photo Gallery

Roads are washed out as Relief International teams travel to flood-affected villages in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province in January 2020.
A family camps out in a temporary tent dwelling next to their home, which was destroyed by floodwaters and mud in Sistan-Baluchestan, Iran.
The floodwaters rendered critical water and sanitation infrastructure unusable. In the immediate aftermath, many families were forced to drink unsafe water from nearby ponds, heightening the risk of an outbreak of waterborne disease.
Women and children assess the damage to their village after flash floods wreaked havoc across Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province.
Local authorities report that only 23% of flood-affected areas have access to clean water. Relief International teams conduct a hygiene awareness session for villagers in order to prevent an outbreak of waterborne diseases.
A Relief International staff member leads a hygiene demonstration for women in flood-affected families in Sistan-Baluchestan. Here, she explains how to properly use water purification tablets to ward off waterborne diseases.