09/07/2021 09:35 number of readings 412 Section : file and analysis
The drying up of rivers reveals a future water disaster that threatens life in Iraq
Baghdad/Al-Masala: Iraq is suffering from a severe reduction in water supplies.
Officials trying to revive rivers such as the Sirwan in Kurdistan say poor flows from upstream countries Iran and Turkey are exacerbating domestic problems such as leaks, aging pipelines and illegal withdrawals of flows.
Referring to the course of a river whose water has dried up, there was a river where we are standing now, said environmental protection activist Nabil Moussa, indicating that the reason for the receding of the waters of the Sirwan River, which was once roaring and turned into a quiet small stream, lies beyond the border.
Iran and Turkey are building large dams to solve their water shortage problems, and regional cooperation on this matter is uneven.
Iraqi officials said that the Daryan Dam diverts parts of the Sirwan River back into Iranian territory through a 48-kilometer tunnel.
Residents of Iraqi villages say they have felt the impact of the lack of water flows for two years and complain that this shortage has had a severe impact on downstream communities, especially in the increasingly frequent drought years.
The Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources said that the situation in Diyala province, where the river is located, will worsen if an agreement is not reached with Iran, from which about 18 percent of the Tigris waters also originate, on ways to share the "damage" from the lack of water flows.
Baghdad reduced the area of summer cultivation in Diyala, in both irrigation and rain-fed areas, to 30 percent of its area last year, and wells were dug to support affected farmers in an attempt to adapt to the water shortage.
The water crisis in Iraq has been taking shape for nearly 20 years.
The aging infrastructure and short-term policies made Baghdad vulnerable to the repercussions of climate change and the lack of flows to neighboring countries, the source of about 70 percent of the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
As of June, flows from neighboring countries have halved, said Aoun Diab, a spokesman for Iraq's Ministry of Water Resources.
Iraqi officials say that negotiations with Turkey over how much water it will allow to reach Iraq are difficult, but at least they are ongoing.
In the past 30 years, Iran has contracted to build at least 600 dams in the country. But Iraq has not developed its infrastructure.
At a summit in Baghdad, countries from the Middle East discussed regional cooperation, but the issue of water policies did not reach the summit's agenda.