Water levels in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, two of Iraq’s main water sources, are falling and temperatures in Iraq are rising, according to the UN Interagency Information and Analysis Unit. The rivers have dropped to less than a third of normal capacity and desertification is spreading.
“The tendency of rainfall in general is continuously declining,” said Deputy Environment Minister Kamal Hussein Latif. On the temperature, he said: “You can see there is a rise.”
Although agriculture is one of its biggest employers, Iraq is still one of the top 10 importers of wheat and rice. Farming accounts for less than 3% of tax receipts and so it gets little investment. Compare this with the oil industry, which is receiving hundreds of billions of US dollars-worth of investment from many different countires, as it provides more than 95% of state receipts.
40% of farmland has seen crop yields affected, yet many of the figures are from recent years only, making it difficult to ascertain how much of the cause is climate change, when mismanagement also has a role to play. The Iraqi Water Resources ministry is talking with the Defence ministry to help it clear canals needed for irrigation of mines and bombs, and it is also hoping to clear them of pollution, so that they can offer water to local farms, as well as potable water for villagers.
(Source: Reuters, General Secretariat for the Council of Ministers)