Vice President Ayad Allawi called Friday on the government to engage in negotiations with Turkey and Iran to sign new water-sharing agreements to increase water release and ensure Iraq’s legal water quota in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
In a statement, Allawi said the Iraq had witnessed a severe drought over the past years due to low rainfall, inefficiency of water use in irrigation, Tigris and Euphrates rivers’ low water levels and government failure to find a suitable alternative.
The situation is dangerous. Ever what is far more dangerous is the government’s mismanagement of the water issue. This has contributed to the drought crisis Iraq is witnessing, he noted.
The percentage of Iraqi people who do not have access to drinking water is worrying, he further stated.
Stifling water shortages have affected the livelihoods of many residents. This can lead to the collapse of agriculture, which is an important source of income for most of southern governorates’ residents, resulting in grave implications if the crisis persists, the vice president added.
Late in October, it was reported that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reached an agreement with Turkey to increase Iraq’s water quota.
Recently, Hassan Janabi, Iraq’s Water Resources Minister, said construction of dams and other water-holding facilities in upstream Turkey and Iran, combined with increasingly erratic rainfall across the region, mean the amount of water flowing in key Iraqi rivers had fallen by at least 40 percent in recent decades.
Damage to Iraq's own dams and other infrastructure from years of fighting — and from a recent earthquake -- also is making water supplies more irregular, he added.