Iraq faces an unprecedented drought crisis [MOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP/Getty-file photo]
More than half of Iraq’s land is at risk of desertification, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.
Iraq is facing an unprecedented drought crisis, hit by climate change and measures taken by Iran and Turkey that have reduced the flow of water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the country.
This halved the amount of available agricultural land, completely halting farming in some provinces, in line with published seasonal plans depending on water availability, The New Arabs Arab Sister Service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeedreported.
“The decrease in rains during the 2021 winter season and the lower amount of water discharged from upstream countries have led to reductions in the agricultural plan,” said Director General Rawya Mazal of the Forestry and Control Department. desertification from the Ministry of Agriculture.
“This has led to the desertification of the land in [Iraq] because of their lack of productivity,” she told the manager Iraqi News Agency Friday.
Mazal said about 15% of the land, or about 10,400 square miles, has been desertified, while 55% is “threatened” from this fate.
She explained that desertification is an issue that goes beyond her ministry, saying that “signs of interest in this issue are beginning to appear on the horizon.”
“We are hoping for the best from the Food Security Act by providing the necessary allocations to address this issue,” Mazal said.
Bader Al-Khuzai, a member of the agricultural association in Wasit governorate, said desertification would only be halted with meaningful measures.
Afforestation campaigns bloom in Iraq as citizen action leads the battle against desertification caused by the climate crisis ⬇ https://t.co/htBKzg1mMH
— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) July 2, 2022
“Beating desertification requires bold action on the part of government – that is, seeking [Iraq’s] shares water from neighboring countries of Iran and Turkey by engaging in serious negotiations with them,” he said. Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
He said that if water is available, “it is enough to bring agricultural plans back to what they were in the past to control” the issue of desertification.
However, Al-Khuzai also said that “the corruption that has eroded state institutions also has significant impacts on the [issue of desertification]by reducing financial allocations to ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture”.
Iraq is one of the countries most at risk from climate change, with the World Bank saying in November that the country’s water resources will decline by 20% by 2050.