Solmaz Daryani


Iran is suffering from a socio-economic drought, where water demand exceeds the natural water supply. My country is facing a severe and protracted water crisis and desertification, as lakes and rivers once-fertile, become barren.

The Hamoun wetlands, located in the largest Iranian province, Sistan-Balouchestan in southeastern Iran, are transboundary wetlands on the border of Iran-Afghanistan, which used to be the seventh-largest international lagoon, and the largest sweet water lake in Iran. The wetlands have turned to a sea of sand in the recent fifteen years due to drought, climate change, poor water management, prevention of water flow from Afghanistan, and disputes over granting water rights to Iran from Afghanistan.

The Hamoun wetlands that once covered an area of 4,000 square kilometres, and held communities dating back 5000 years, is now an environmental calamity. My project explores the environmental, social, and economic devastation wrought by desertification in the southeast region of Iran, as once fertile lakes and rivers become irreversibly degraded.

Hamoun wetlands desiccation had dire consequences for Sistan and Baluchestan Province, home to 2.8 million people, mostly Sunnis. Many people lack basic access to clean water, food, and education, subsisting on government handouts. With large-scale unemployment, some have turned to smuggling fuel and drugs, and about 30% of the people in Sistan-Balouchestan have migrated to the suburbs of other cities.

My project’s audience is people in and out of my country. Some of them have never thought of a water crisis before, or have never experienced the effects of a water crisis, but for various reasons resist connecting with it. By covering and telling stories, I want to raise awareness of subjects to change public attitudes.

Solmaz Daryani is an Iranian Azeri photographer and photojournalist. Daryani studied computer science in Iran, emerging from school with a BA in software engineering. She studied photojournalism at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. Her work is particularly known for exploring the themes of climate security, climate change, water crisis, the human identity, and the environment.

Her work has been published by international magazines and newspapers such as National Geographic Magazine, Foreign Policy Magazine, Polka Magazine, The American Scholar Magazine, The Caravan Magazine and other publications.