Azzam Alloush – researcher
In recent years, Iraq has witnessed frequent and escalating dust storms and increasing temperatures in Iraq and the region (3 to 5 degrees Celsius, compared to the 1960s). We have seen multiple droughts in the past two decades, and even snowfall and rainfall appear to be irregular, and the effects of these changes on Iraq are increasing. To build dams in Turkey and Iran and for Iran to change river tracks.
The effects of these dams are exacerbated; by the lack of coordination between upstream countries and Iraq and the lack of modernization of irrigation methods in Iraq, although strategic studies demonstrate the urgent need to reduce the waste of limited water resources within Iraq. The construction of dams at the sources of our rivers has reduced the amount of water that has reached them, negatively affecting agricultural production, not only at this point, and the decrease in water flow to the Shatt al-Arab has caused the salt tongue to rise to the upper Shatt al-Arab; This will cause salinization of land on both sides of the Shatt al-Arab, and Basra will suffer from a shortage of drinking water. According to strategic studies by the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources, the country will face a 10.8 billion cubic meters shortfall per year by 2035 unless action is taken to modernize irrigation and water resources management.
It should be noted that irrigation agriculture has been sustainable for thousands of years in Iraq; Due to flooding that sweeps away salts from summer season cultivation and deposits a new layer of green and mud annually, revitalizing farmland without requiring fertilizer. But because of the construction of dams in upstream countries, floods have become scarce, and the last flood – which was in the flood of 1968 – catastrophically surveyed agricultural lands. As a result of these accumulations, Iraqi peasants continue to use Sumerian irrigation methods, with no periodic flooding – 54% of our country is at risk of land degradation, and desertification affects 39% of the land area.
According to UNEP, Iraq ranks fifth in the world in terms of economic vulnerability, the country’s exposure to the effects of climate change, the potential loss of a significant source of the economy (the sale of oil and gas), water shortages, and population growth. These factors threaten the living conditions of millions of Iraqis, weaken the long-term sustainability of the Iraqi economy, and, overall, pose an urgent threat to Iraq’s national security.
This vulnerability is linked to the fact that Iraq has lost the basis of its traditional economic activity based on agriculture and trade and has become addicted to rentier income and the sale and export of crude oil. At a time when the world is moving in one way or another towards reducing fossil fuel consumption; To reduce carbon dioxide accumulation; Which means crude oil demand will fall, and the market is expected to fall below its current level, which is (100) million barrels per day to (25) million barrels per day in 2050. Given the low cost of production, Iraq will remain an oil producer, but whatever the daily output, it is difficult for income to meet the expected number of Iraqis in 2050, which is about 80 million if population growth continues at the same pace.
Most countries in the region have developed a sovereign fund to serve future generations. Unfortunately, Iraq has been engaged in devastating wars with Iran and the occupation of Kuwait. Followed by penalties for a decade, then 20 years of instability and without any change in the socialist economic approach to State administration and laws; this has hindered the establishment of such a sovereign fund in Iraq and further complicated the rapid increase in population numbers, And the complete dependence of Iraqis on government jobs that produce little value added to the state economy. The economy of the Iraqi State has become a process of redistributing oil income to employees who do not produce, the transformation of government jobs into disguised unemployment, unfortunately often used to buy electoral votes through cronyism. The remainder of the surplus oil income is lost by corruption and large, worthless, and futile enterprises.
The effects of climate change are worsening – during this great confusion in Iraq, the lack of urgent action by Iraqi policymakers; to remedy this catastrophe and the persistence of wasteful water practices, which assume that water is unlimited and that energy and resource conservation is unnecessary, while the situation dictates that addressing climate change must become a national priority for Iraq.
Azzam Alloush – researcher