Police have used tear gas to disperse hundreds of people demonstrating in the Iranian city of Isfahan to demand government action over a drought.
Video footage on social media appeared to show police and protesters clashing in the dry bed of the Zayandehrud River on November 26. Other videos showed similar unrest in nearby streets of Isfahan.
The gathering of some 500 people in Isfahan was ended by what the Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency said was a large security force.
Farmers reportedly ended a nearly weeks-long protest in the area on November 25, after authorities promised to compensate them for losses suffered in drought-stricken areas of central Iran.
Drought has been a problem in Iran for some 30 years, but it has worsened over the past decade, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. The Iran Meteorological Organization says that an estimated 97 percent of the country now faces some level of drought.
The farming area around Isfahan was once well supplied by the Zayandehrud River, but nearby factories have increasingly drawn on it over the years. The river once flowed under historic bridges in Isfahan’s city center, but it’s now a barren strip of dirt.
In 2012, farmers clashed with police in a town in Isfahan Province, breaking a water pipe that diverted some 50 million cubic meters of water a year to a neighboring province. Similar protests have continued sporadically since then.