International efforts are needed to find solutions to Iraq’s water crisis, the UN envoy to the country has said.
Iraq is the fifth most vulnerable nation to climate breakdown, impacted by high temperatures, droughts and frequent dust storms, presenting a serious threat to the livelihood, according to the UN.
“There is a feeling that there is an urgent need to find a solution to the water crisis in Iraq. We must all move in order to find a way out and Iraq cannot do this alone,” Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said on the first day of the Iraq Climate Conference in the southern city of Basra on Sunday.
There is a surging demand for water in the country as neighbouring states have shrunk vital water sources to Iraq, rapid population growth, urbanisation and inefficient water use by the agricultural and industrial sectors.
Iraq needs support from international groups, financial institutions, neighbouring states and other countries, Ms Plasschaert told Iraq's state news agency.
“We are here to build partnerships and what the UN can offer is to be an important partner that calls for effective dialogue and to provide technical assistance,” she said.
The official said many agencies are ready to help Iraq mitigate the impact of climate change and adapt.
On Sunday, Iraq's Prime Minister, Mohammed Al Sudani said his cabinet is working on a national plan to tackle climate change that consists of a series of measures it hopes to take by 2030.
The plan includes building renewable energy plants, modernising inefficient and outdated irrigation techniques, reducing carbon emissions, combating desertification and protecting the country's biodiversity.
Iraq has suffered immensely from dust storms, which have had an impact on its agriculture escort.
The UN has warned that if the Iraqi government does not prepare and plan, the scale of environmental change is likely to be devastating and may force Iraqis to relocate in order to survive.
At the end of 2021, the International Organisation for Migration recorded about 20,000 people had already been displaced due to water scarcity, high salinity and poor water quality across the country.