Over 50 percent of Iraq’s land threatened by desertification 

author_image Kurdistan 24
A view of a dried up body of a dead fish on drying earth in the Chibayesh marshland in Iraq's southern Ahwar area, June 20, 2021. (Photo: Asaad Niazi/AFP)
A view of a dried up body of a dead fish on drying earth in the Chibayesh marshland in Iraq's southern Ahwar area, June 20, 2021. (Photo: Asaad Niazi/AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – More than 50 percent of Iraq’s landmass is now threatened by desertification, the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture announced on Friday.

Lack of precipitation and upstream dam construction is believed to be the leading causes of this creeping desertification that now threatens an estimated 55 percent of the country, the head of the forestry and anti-desertification department at the Ministry of Agriculture Rawya Maz’al told state media on Friday. 

The official added that 27 million dunams (2.7 million hectares) of Iraqi land, about 15 percent of the country’s total landmass, has already been reduced to desert.

The frequent and severe dust storms endured by Iraq are also partially blamed on the desertification of large swathes of the country’s land. 

Iran and Turkey have also constructed dams atop Iraq’s lifeline, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. 

Slashed crop yields amid global wheat shortages have also threatened food security in the country. 

The United Kingdom and Canada recently announced over $6 million in funding to Iraq through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to help Baghdad cope with the climate change threats it faces. 

Canada supports Iraq’s goal of negotiating an equitable share of the waters from the Tigris and Euphrates, Canadian Ambassador to Iraq Gregory Galligan said on Wednesday. 

Iraq is ranked the fifth most vulnerable country to the adverse effects of climate change by the United Nations.