Tuesday, August 9, 2022

UN experts warn of serious water problems for Iraq

Azzam Al Wash teaches at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani and is the founder of the environmental organization, Nature Iraq, which helped revive the drained wetlands in southern Iraq.

He told VOA that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers had flooded Iraq for centuries, renewing its once green agricultural land, but the floods stopped in 1968 after dams were built upstream mainly for hydroelectric purposes in Turkey, where the rivers originate. Iran, he said, also diverted the Tigris because it also needed water.

“The Iraqi farmer is used to having an abundance of water, not a lack of water,” Al Wash said. “The whole structure of water management in Iraq was designed and built at a time when floods were a natural norm. But by agreeing with Turkey on the operational rules of certain dams, we can actually stop the man-made lakes for flood control. created, to use and thus make more water for Iraqi farmers and cities to use. ”

However, Al Wash and others do not have much hope for this remedy. He adds that Iraq’s population is still growing and with it its water consumption. And then there are challenges for climate change.

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Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources warned in a shocking report last December that the continued loss of water from the Tigris and Euphrates, which form the backbone of its freshwater supply, could turn the country into a “land without rivers by 2040.”

Iraqi Water Minister Mahdi Al-Hamadani said after contacting his counterparts in Turkey and Iran – he was still awaiting negotiations. The United Nations also calls on the three neighbors to reach a fair water share arrangement.

Recently, several UN agencies issued an urgent call for action to protect Iraq as it celebrated the World Day for Combating Desertification and Drought. But analysts point to Turkey and Iran’s own water problems and climate change challenges as obstacles.

Research fellow Tobias von Lossow at the Clingendael Dutch Institute for International Relations told VOA observers see the Shatt al Arab waterway where the Tigris and Euphrates meet in Iraq as “sooner or later dry up.” He warns that “there are worrying trends” and that there is only “a small window to prevent this from happening.”

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“Especially the southeastern target project in Turkey has had a huge impact,” Von Lossow said. “So, the water inflow to Iraq has decreased by 30 to 40% since the late 1970s and this trend continues. Climate change and environmental degradation are contributing to and accelerating it. We will see more droughts, water shortages, sandstorms, dust storms.

“And we will see that on a more regular and regular basis in the future. There are limited options for Iraq. Iraq can work on domestic water management. Press a little harder on agricultural reforms, crop selection, irrigation technology.”

The United Nations places Iraq among the top five countries most affected by climate change worldwide, with its increasing loss of arable land due to salinization, less rainfall, prolonged heat waves and an onslaught of dust storms. Meanwhile, the decline in water levels of both rivers has caused farms and fishing businesses near their shores to be abandoned.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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