Iraq Faces Yet Another Crisis - This Time It's Water

iraq water crisis photo

Photo via NY Times

Even though we've just wrapped up our focus on the worldwide water crisis, we must adress the fact that one of the most volatile regions in the world can add another problem to its miles-long laundry list of them: a dwindling water supply. The Euphrates River is drying up, and it's putting thousands of Iraqis at risk. According to the New York Times,

The Euphrates is drying up. Strangled by the water policies of Iraq’s neighbors, Turkey and Syria; a two-year drought; and years of misuse by Iraq and its farmers, the river is significantly smaller than it was just a few years ago. Some officials worry that it could soon be half of what it is now.
Awful water management from every country involved, combined with an increasing frequency of droughts has forced Iraq to begin importing water. But even that isn't enough:
The shrinking of the Euphrates, a river so crucial to the birth of civilization that the Book of Revelation prophesied its drying up as a sign of the end times, has decimated farms along its banks, has left fishermen impoverished and has depleted riverside towns as farmers flee to the cities looking for work.
Of course, since the problem is largely man made, and there is hope--though dim--for improvement:
Officials say nothing will improve if Iraq does not seriously address its own water policies and its history of flawed water management. Leaky canals and wasteful irrigation practices squander the water, and poor drainage leaves fields so salty from evaporated water that women and children dredge huge white mounds from sitting pools of runoff.
And though there seem to be some obvious solutions--irrigation and canal repair, better regulation--Iraq is hardly in a position to invest much money in water conservation. Even if they did, Turkey and Syria would need to cooperate with Iraq in order to send it a healthy supply.

In short, it's a mess--and it's only getting worse. The situation should highlight an issue that's gripping regions around the world. And we all need to start paying attention.

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