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Iraq: 35 dams on the way to fight drought

The construction of two dams will begin by 2023: the first will be the Abu Takiya dam, near the areas of Shingal and Rabia, in the Badia desert in the north-west of the country; the second will be the Al Masad Dam in the western desert region


© Agenzia Nova - Reproduction reserved

Iraq's Ministry of Water Resources is planning to build more than 35 dams across the country in 2024 in a bid to combat drought. Minister Aoun Diab told the state newspaper "Al Sabah" that we need to accelerate the construction of dams because scientific indicators predict that this year heavy rains will discharge large quantities of water earlier than the autumn and winter averages, after four years of Drought. The construction of two dams will begin by 2023: the first will be the Abu Takiya dam, near the areas of Shingal and Rabia, in the Badia desert in the north-west of the country; the second will be the Al Masad Dam in the western desert region. In August Khaled al Shamali, spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources, told the Iraqi-Kurdish agency "Rudaw" that current water reserves in Iraq are the lowest in the country's history, having been reduced to 5 billion cubic meters. The danger of drought and desertification threatens Iraq and the region, and the rapid decline in water levels threatens the lives of local people, livestock and agriculture.

In March, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al Sudani met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, asking for an increase in the flow of the rivers that flow from Turkish dams into Iraqi valleys. At that juncture, Erdogan had agreed to double the release of water from the Tigris River for a period of one month. A report by Iraq's Ministry of Water Resources released in late 2022 predicted that unless urgent action is taken to combat falling water levels, Iraq's two main rivers will be completely dry by 2040. According to the United Nations, Iraq is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, including water and food insecurity. The Shiite-majority Arab country faces a serious water shortage due to reduced rainfall and higher temperatures, but also to waste and mismanagement. The crisis is exacerbated by upstream dams in Turkey and Iran which have led to a significant decrease in the volume of incoming water. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has long warned that water availability in Iraq will decline by around 20 percent by 2025, threatening the long-term stability of the agricultural and industrial sectors.

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