Iraq Seeks to Ease Water Shortage

The Ataturk dam in Turkey along with Syrian water projects have decreased the flow of the Euphrates river into Iraq and are withholding adequate water supplies, say Iraqi officials.

On the first international water management conference in Jordan, Iraq asked Syria and Turkey to increase the water flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The officials added that, while supplies of fresh water were improving, it might take three years for all Iraqis to have access to safe water, according to BBC.

The Iraqi Minister for Water Resources, Dr Abdul Latif Rashid, said "Before building these dams in Turkey or using water in Syria for large areas for irrigation, we were getting...nearly 30 billion cubic metres of water. Now it's about a third of that amount, so the flow in both rivers–especially in the Tigris–has been reduced."

Dr Rashid said that Iraq is working with both countries to resolve the water problem. He also urges Turkey and Syria to share water, rainfall and other hydrology information so that they can better co-operate with each other. According to him, mismanagement and the poor state of Iraq's infrastructure are to blame for some of its water problems.

Currently, maintenance efforts have been undertaken south of the country, while water tankers are bringing supplies of drinking water to other places. However, Dr. Rashid said that situation will not be quickly resolved as security is affecting the rebuilding of Iraq's water sector.


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