| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Some Iraqi Province Defy Govt Orders over Water Management

Governor of Iraq’s Babylon province appeared in a video last month as he ordered the opening of a water gate on the Euphrates River to meet the demand of local farmers.


The move was a blatant act of defiance against the federal government that is responsible for the management of water resources throughout the country.


The Ministry of Water Resources threatened at the time to take “legal measures” against government Ali Allawi al-Dulaimi and demanded that local governments “refrain from meddling” in its affairs.


The worsening water crisis and violations over water shares in Babylon forced Minister of Water Resources Mahdi al-Hamdani to carry out a field visit in the province on Saturday.


In a statement, his ministry said the visit aimed at inspecting the water situation in the area.


The ministry is exerting great efforts to ensure that provinces that are located far away from rivers receive water, it added.


Violations over water shares are becoming a daily occurrence nearly throughout Iraq, with claims that provinces are not receiving enough water. The government has not taken enough measures to deter such practices, which has only encouraged violations.


On Saturday, the General Commission for Groundwater announced that some of its workers were attacked in the Al-Muthanna province.


In a statement, it said the employees were physically assaulted and prevented from completing their work shift. They were forcibly removed from their offices as the local authority in Al-Muthanna did nothing to contain the situation.


Moreover, it revealed that groundwater in the province was being extracted by locals, without official approval from the Water Resources Ministry. This has resulted in a drop in groundwater levels in some regions and the drying up of some lakes.


Drought and water shortages are becoming an increasingly growing problem in Iraq due to lack of rainfall and water violations committed by its neighbors, namely Iran and Turkey.


Rainfall has dropped below average levels for three years in Iraq.


Compounding the problem is the poor management of this complicated file by official authorities.


Battered by decades of conflict that has sapped its infrastructure, Iraq is struggling with droughts, repeated sandstorms, desertification and a drop in some river levels.


The United Nations ranks Iraq as one of the top five countries most vulnerable to climate change.


Since mid-April, it has been battered by 10 sandstorms — a product of intense drought, soil degradation, high temperatures and low rainfall linked to climate change.


President Barham Salih has warned that tackling climate change “must become a national priority for Iraq as it is an existential threat to the future of our generations to come”.


Salih said desertification affects 39 percent of Iraq, where water supplies are also dwindling drastically and crop yields are declining.


But efforts to address such issues appear to have been shelved, as Iraq grapples with political deadlock that has left it without a new government after polls last October.


The World Bank has warned that unless solutions are found, Iraq could lose 20 percent of its water resources by 2050 due to climate change.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat