Middle East

Drought forces locals in southern Iraq to quit villages

Mass migrations have had negative impact on public health, livestock breeding, says official

18.10.2018
Drought forces locals in southern Iraq to quit villages FILE PHOTO

Iraq

By Ali Jawad

BAGHDAD

Residents of several villages in Iraq’s Dhi Qar province had to leave their homes this summer due to severe drought, according to a local official.

Speaking to reporters, Ali Raddad, governor of Dhi Qar’s Al-Islah district, said the entire populations of 25 agricultural villages had been forced to migrate over the summer “due to water scarcity”.

The mass migrations, he said, had had a negative impact on both public health and livestock breeding in the affected areas.

Iraq’s water reserves have fallen by some 4 billion cubic meters this year, with reserves currently standing at about 17 billion cubic meters, according to Iraq’s Water Resources Ministry.

“Despite the recent loss of about 4 billion cubic meters, there is still an abundance of drinking water,” Zafer Abdullah, an adviser at the ministry, told Anadolu Agency.

For years, Iraq has seen a steady decline in water emanating from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers due to lower-than-average rainfall during the winter season.

The decline has led Iraq’s Agriculture Ministry to reduce the amount of land under cultivation during the current winter season by 55 percent.

In June, the Iraqi authorities banned farmers from sowing eight summer crops -- including rice, maize and cotton -- ostensibly due to the water shortage.

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