Iraq: Drought - Aug 2021


Disaster description

In the region, Euphrates & Tigris rivers are currently experiencing drought conditions, resulting in lower river flow, and affecting dam storage. The current season is the second driest in 40 years. Iraq is anticipating a serious drought this summer following a particularly dry winter and reduced river flow caused by upstream damming programs by riparian countries. Climate change has potential impacts on food security such as reduction in wheat production, decrease in surface water storage, drying of shallower wells due to insufficient groundwater recharge, and an increase in the cost of water. If the dry conditions continue, and the water reservoirs are not replenished, the population will face an acute water shortage for irrigation of the next cropping season. (UNICEF, UNV, 12 Aug 2021)

In Iraq, large swathes of farmland, fisheries, power production and drinking water sources have been depleted of water. In the Ninewa governorate, wheat production is expected to go down by 70 per cent because of the drought, while in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq production is expected to decrease by half. Some families in Anbar who have no access to river water are spending up to USD80 a month on water. (ACTED, et. al., 23 Aug 2021)

Temperatures are hitting record highs; last year saw Baghdad’s highest temperature ever of 52 degrees Celsius. WFP’s assessments revealed that the 2021 rainfall season has been below average, particularly in the northern governorates and Kurdistan Region. This could impact the final yield of the two major crops; wheat and barley. WFP’s May surveys noted that 8 percent of people in Ninewa and Kirkuk governorates have insufficient food consumption, twice as many as the 4 percent national average. Similarly, 13.4 percent of people in Ninewa reported employing negative coping strategies – such as borrowing money or eating less food – above the 7.5 percent national average. WFP continues to monitor the situation closely, particularly the impact on food security. (WFP, 6 Sep 2021)

As consistently reported by UN Iraq, drought and water scarcity are pressing concerns, and the marshlands of southern Iraq are among the worst affected areas. With annual evaporation varying from 2.5 to 3 meters, and starkly reduced riverine flows supplying the marshlands, the area covered by water has been substantially reduced. Moreover, increased salinity and mineral concentration directly impact human and animal health. Urgent action is required to address the lack of potable water and associated risks, including forced displacement. (UNAMI, 1 Feb 2022)

Latest Updates

Maps and Infographics

Most Read