An Elegy for the Death of Hamun

A portrait of Mohammad, a 42 year old man, looking out of an abandoned mosque located at the heights of the former Takht Shah Village. He is covering his face with a shawl to protect himself from the adverse consequences of 120-day sandstorms. As a former resident of the village, Mohammad says that all of the residents have left the village more than three years ago because of drought. The deserted village of Takht Shah, Azbol.
Photo: Hashem Shakeri.

by Hashem Shakeri – made as his final project during Photo I in the spring 2018.

As the largest province of the country, Sistan and Baluchestan is located in the southeast of Iran and it shares borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Once a forest in the distant past and with a history of over 5000 years, it used to be a great source of crops in the country. Now, the province is facing rapid climate change, which has turned this vast region into an infertile desert. Drought, unemployment and hopelessness for the future of this land have made over one fourth of the population migrate in recent years.

The reeds of the dried land in Hamun Lake automatically catch fire because of excessive dryness and hot sunlight, causing a huge fire in the dried land of the Lake. The firefighter cars are there to extinguish the fire during hot seasons. Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
Rige Mouri village, Helmand town, Sistan. The Saravani family has lived in this region for more than 100 years. Their village has now turned into a wilderness, covered with sand and dust. Not long ago, there was a river nearby, and the mother of the family talked to me about the richness of the region with regret. The son of the family remembered swimming in the river and working in the area. In the past, more than 500 families (3000 people) lived in the village but now only 17 families remain. Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
The Adimi, Dehno (new village), Sistan. Here is part of the Helmand water, which one entered the city and was used by the people, but which is now dried up. Kids are playing by the abandoned fishing boats. Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
Zabol, Sistan. Nabi Sarani, 63 years of age, is a livestock holder and a farmer, who has lost many of his sheep this year after the severe drought. Now only these few are left. He hopes to return to agriculture by using fresh water from a new well he found. Photo: Hashem Shakeri
The shepherds have dug the ground in the lake with a Loader bought personally and drink their livestock with the wells they have dug. Hamun region, Sistan. Photo: Hashem Shakeri
Zahak dam, Zahak. Sistan. Until last year, water ran under this dam but now urban sewage runs through it, some teenagers have caught fish from this dirty water. They will sell the fish and use the money to buy bread for their family. Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
Behzad, a 5 year old boy, is swinging in Takht Edalat Village located along Hirmand River, which is completely dried out now. He says his father used to be the best fisher at the harbor.
Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
Teenage boys catch fish for sale from the dirty, sewage-filled water under Zahak Dam. Before the recent years of drought, the lake used to be filled by the Helmand River. Now the local community is suffering from a lack of water. Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
A portrait of Balouchi girls in Kianshahr region in Baluchestan. They live in a poor family with religious and ethnic prejudices. The lives of most women and girls in this region are influenced by traditions and ethnic prejudices. Many of them are deprived of basic rights to express their opinions and make personal decisions. Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
Helmand, Sistan. With the seasonal 120-day winds in this region, the floating sands of the dried land in Helmand are gathered against the doors and walls of the village houses. The peopel also face several problems removing these sands off their houses. Muhammad, 42 years old, says: last year I went to governorate to ask for a spade and a wheelbarrow but they did not even answer this simple request. When I asked the Red Crescent to remove these sands off our houses with their loaders, they told me their loaders did not have gasoline. Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
Choutani village, Dashtyari region, Cha’bahar, Balouchestan. Four girls from a family in Choutani village are taking water from a Houtag. “Houtags” are pits in which rain water has gathered. In Cha’bahar region, there are many Houtags, but during droughts their water is dirty and muddy. The livestock drink from this source of water and some of the families who are less well-off financially use this water to wash their clothes and do other daily chores. When they lack drinking water, they also have to take this dirty water, boil it, and use it.
Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
Drought, poverty, unemployment and addiction have spread through the region. Hoveida, 30 years old and an addict, lives next to the Zahak dam – which was until recently full of water but is now dried up, with only urban sewage and garbage flowing in it. Although he is only 30, he says that he is at the end of his rope and hopes to die soon. The Zahak municipality and city council are located nearby. Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
Pelgi village, Edimi town, Sistan. Severe lack of water and drought have made the palm trees to dry up. The people have left their houses and moved to other cities because of unemployment and the water crisis. Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
In Takht-e-Edalat, drought has made farming and raising livestock very difficult. Here, people try grazing cattle on the dried Helmand River. Photo: Hashem Shakeri.
Hossein, a 13-year-old boy from Beris, Chaabahar. The natives in Beris are the oldest residents in Chaabahar. People of Beris live in hardship, poverty, and famine. However, most of the residents in Zabol, especially farmers and livestock breeders, who saw their farms dry up and their livestock lost, decided to move to the tourist city, Chaabahr. Many of them have turned to driving. Photo: Hashem Shakeri.