Iraq lays out plans to tackle climate change and address water supply problems

Country's livelihood is on the line with threat of environmental change

A sand storm in the southern port city of Basra. Iraq is taking steps to assess and address its water problems. AFP
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Iraq will prepare a green paper to tackle climate change as reduced water flow and high temperatures take their toll on the country's livelihood.

Iraq is one of the most climate-vulnerable places on earth. Warming is expected to cut annual rainfall there, which will increase the frequency of dust storms, diminish water supplies and take a toll on agricultural activity.

This will have a knock-on effect on the health of Iraqis and on the country’s economy.

Baghdad played host to the second International Water Conference on Saturday, and on Sunday Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi announced that a committee was set up to draft a green paper for a climate change strategy.

"Iraq is the country most exposed to the impact of climate change,” Mr Al Kadhimi said.

He stressed a need for "co-ordination of the international community to manage the crises and share the damage”.

“Improving the management of water resources and their equitable sharing is a must to meet Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr Al Kadhimi said.

“Water security and climate change must be included in the strategies of countries.”

Several United Nations agencies also took part in the conference.

Last year, there was record low rainfall in Iraq, water flow was reduced and increased water stress, meaning a lack of resources to meet demand.

Water salinity in wetlands rose to dangerous levels.

Salinity occurs naturally in surface water but can accumulate quickly in hot climates when there is not enough rainwater to wash it away. At high levels it can render soil barren.

The UN said that annual evaporation varies from 2.5 to 3 metres, sharply reducing river flows supplying the marshlands, resulting in their area being substantially reduced.

Fears have heightened that a dry season will hit Iraq for the third year in a row, cutting the area of viable land that can be planted with core crops such as wheat and barley.

Updated: March 07, 2022, 6:39 PM