AL MONITOR : Iraqi Kurdistan water crisis blamed on climate and Iran by Saman Dawod

A woman looks on at the waste dump of Diwaniyah where families live in the rubbish with no electricity or drinking water, on March 25, 2018. - HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP via Getty Images Read more:

Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government has asked citizens to ration water.

Citizens in the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, Erbil, are now buying water at prices exceeding $50 per tanker, as water has been cut off for more than two weeks in most areas of the Kurdish capital. The private water tankers carry between 3,000 and 4,500 liters (some 800 to 1,200 gallons) of water that is used for drinking and washing; it generally lasts less than a week per family. 

A severe drinking water shortage hit Erbil over the last two weeks due to the region’s drought. Erbil depends 65% on surface water coming from the Zab River and 35% on well water; the drought has affected both sources.

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s directorate of water and sewage announced July 7 that the water crisis stems from the decrease in rain and snow, which affected the surface water. The drop in rain and snow coupled with the drop in the level of groundwater and the drying up of many wells is a result of climate change and also high demand, the directorate said.

Local authorities are now asking people to « ration consumption in the use of water and place float valves in water tanks to reduce any water waste.”

In a July 10 press conference, Erbil Deputy Gov. Omed Khoshnaw said on a visit to Soran district, “The water crisis in Erbil is under control and work is underway to solve it.”

“The regional government leadership is providing support to solve the crisis and reduce the effects of drought,” he added, noting that « 1 billion Iraqi dinars » ($685,000) had been allocated to resolve the crisis.

Masoud Karash, deputy governor of Erbil and head of the province’s Supreme Committee for Combating Drought, explained to Al-Monitor that the crisis is not new and recurs every year — especially in the summer — as a result of high temperatures and power outages, in addition to the low levels of rain and snow. Karash said the crisis is not in the entire province but only in some areas, especially those at high altitudes. READ MORE