Lack of Water Threatens Iraq's Long-term Stability

Reuters‘ Serena Chaudhry reports lack of water is ruining crops and farmers’ livlihoods. She cites the case of

Abdullah Hasan a 50-year-old father of five from Falluja in western Anbar province who has been was forced to abandon his 50 acres of land and take a job in construction after years of drought killed off his wheat, barley, tomato, cucumber and watermelon harvests.

He has little hope of returning to farming -- his primary source of income for 35 years -- and plans to sell some of his land as water levels in rivers and reservoirs continue to drop, increasing the concentration of pollutants in the water.

A country dominated by arid desert landscapes, it has one of the most extensive irrigation systems in the world but years of war, underinvestment and sanctions have prevented it from properly harnessing what little water it has, she writes

The United Nations says around 83 percent of sewage is being discharged untreated into waterways, while the government estimates 24 percent of Iraqis do not have access to safe water.

Working with U.S. experts, the government is trying to build treatment plants and biological lagoons to clean polluted water.

In Anbar, a Provincial Reconstruction Team -- a unit set up by the United States to help rebuild Iraq -- has spent over $100 million to build and maintain treatment facilities and expects 97 percent of residents to have clean water by year's end.

It could take months before a new government is formed and that means delays in new projects that need cabinet approval.

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