World Bank warns of imminent decline in Iraq’s water resources


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Baghdad (AFP) – Iraq could experience a 20% drop in its water resources by 2050 due to climate change, the World Bank said on Wednesday, warning of the repercussions on growth and jobs.

Water is a critical issue for this oil-rich country of 40 million people facing an acute energy crisis, exacerbated by increasingly severe droughts and low rainfall.

“Without action, water constraints will cause significant losses in multiple sectors of the economy and affect more and more vulnerable people,” World Bank’s Saroj Kumar Jha said in a statement accompanying a new report.

“By 2050, an increase in temperature of one degree Celsius and a decrease in precipitation by 10% would result in a 20% reduction in available fresh water” in Iraq, according to the report.

“Under these circumstances, nearly a third of irrigated land in Iraq will have no water by 2050.”

Economic modeling has shown that “Iraq’s real GDP could drop as much as 4%, or $ 6.6 billion from 2016 levels,” according to the report.

The demand for unskilled labor in the agricultural sector could fall by 11.8% and by 5.4% for non-agricultural activities.

The water scarcity “is linked to small-scale forced displacement in Iraq,” the World Bank has warned, particularly in the south of the country.

In 2014, Iraq prepared a 20-year, $ 180 billion plan to deal with its water crisis.

But he was stillborn as the Islamic State group seized a third of the country in the same year and the money was diverted to fight the jihadists.

In 2018, funding from the Ministry of Water represented less than 0.2% of the country’s overall budget, with just $ 15 million.

“The current state of infrastructure has resulted in salinity affecting about 60 percent of cultivated land and a 30 to 60 percent reduction in yield,” the report said.

On a positive note, the World Bank said Iraq’s economic outlook has improved “thanks to the recovery in global oil markets,” adding that its GDP is expected to rise from 2.6 percent this year to over 6% in 2022-2023.

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