Drought grips Iraq, threatening crops and water supplies
On top of Iraq’s myriad other problems, drought has hit the country hard recently, impacting crops and water supplies in many regions. Rainfall this winter was about 40 percent lower than usual in Iraq and Turkey, and as a result, the Tigris River near Baghdad is at its lowest level since 2001. In the country’s main grain-growing area, Diyala province, some irrigation canals have dried up completely. In many areas, patchy access to electricity — from American bombing of the country’s infrastructure in the first stage of the invasion, bouts of civil war, the ongoing occupation, and other problems — means that even farmers in areas where canals and wells haven’t dried up can’t reliably pump water to their fields. Increased dust storms are also more likely now due to the drought conditions, as are water-borne diseases from stagnant and contaminated water supplies. As a temporary fix, some Iraqis are calling for increased water imports from other countries in exchange for below-market rates on oil.