Challenges in Iraqi agriculture: NRC's recommendations on water management

Challenges in Iraqi agriculture: NRC's recommendations on water management

Shafaq News / The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) advised the Iraqi government on Sunday to better manage water resources and impose restrictions on usage.

According to their survey, 60% of farmers in several Iraqi governorates suffer from reduced cultivated areas and decreased water quantities, as reported by AFP.

NRC’s survey revealed increased incomes for some farmers in 2023 compared to 2022 due to "rainfall exceeding initial estimates," leading to improved crop rates.

Conducted last July and August in four Iraqi governorates, the study addressed harvest results and drought impacts on households, interviewing 1079 individuals, with 40% being women and 94% living in rural areas.

In 2023, water access issues continued to affect agricultural production. The survey noted that "60% of farmers had to cultivate smaller areas or use less water due to harsh weather conditions" in northern governorates (Nineveh, Kirkuk, Saladin) and al-Anbar (west).

NRC stated that "four out of five people in surveyed agricultural communities in Nineveh and Kirkuk reduced their food spending over the past 12 months."

The release of the study precedes the start of the Climate Change Conference (COP28) hosted by Dubai from November 30th to December 12th.

Iraq is experiencing its fourth consecutive year of drought amid declining rainfall and rising temperatures. Iraqi authorities blame dams built by Turkey and Iran on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, causing reduced river levels and their tributaries upon reaching Iraq.

However, NRC also attributed responsibility to "water resource management in the country, particularly inefficient irrigation practices in Iraq with the decreasing water resources."

The report noted that "approximately 70% of surveyed farmers use flood irrigation," a method widely considered "the most water-intensive" and unsuitable for areas "prone to seasonal drought."

NRC proposed improving agricultural capabilities through "monitoring, organizing, and distributing water resources."

Moreover, NRC interim Country Director in Iraq, Anthony Zielicki, warned about "Iraq's climate is changing faster than people can adapt."

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