The many ongoing challenges in Iraq—from political upheaval and COVID-19 to plummeting oil prices and the resurgence of the Islamic State—often overshadow the precarious state of the country’s water resources, even though water shortages are exacerbating many of those very issues. Studies have shown that equitable access to water is vital to supporting post-conflict recovery, sustainable development and lasting peace in Iraq, because water underpins public health, food production, agricultural livelihoods and power generation. But fresh water in Iraq is becoming scarcer, fueling more social tensions.
Iraq’s population of 40 million is expected to double by 2050, while the impacts of climate change—decreased and erratic precipitation, higher temperatures, prolonged and more severe droughts—will further aggravate its water woes. Iraqi and international experts are warning that instability will continue in Iraq so long as its long-neglected water crisis is not addressed.