Erbil declares drought for second year in row

“Erbil will experience drought this year as well,” Khoshnaw said, adding the assessment was made by the relevant authorities based on groundwater and rainfall during the year.
An aerial view shows the Erbil Citadel in the Kurdistan Region's capital, Dec. 13, 2021. (Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP)
An aerial view shows the Erbil Citadel in the Kurdistan Region's capital, Dec. 13, 2021. (Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Erbil governor on Sunday declared drought in the province for the second year in a row due to lack of precipitation.

Governor Omed Khoshnaw announced the condition at a press conference in Erbil after he had a meeting with the province’s water authorities to discuss ways to tackle the issue.

“Erbil will experience drought this year as well,” Khoshnaw said, adding the assessment was made by the relevant authorities based on groundwater and rainfall evaluations during the year.

Khoshnaw said this year’s rainfall has provided some drought relief to farmers but is not sufficient to alleviate the condition in the entire province. Erbil has witnessed 250ml of rainfall during the rainy season, half of what is necessary to overcome the dry condition.

In a bid to tackle the drought during the summer season in Erbil, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has allocated nearly 20 billion dinars (around $15 million) for nearly 20 projects that had been proposed by the local authorities, the governor said.

The budget will be spent on digging new water wells, maintaining existing ones, as well as covering other technical expenses for the months of July, August, and September, Khoshnaw said.  

He extended his gratitude to Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and his government for the support they had provided.

The regional capital’s cities, towns, and neighborhoods rely on wells inside the province and water treatment plants on the Greater Zab River to access clean water for both household use and irrigation.

Erbil already has three treatment plants on the basin, commonly known as Ifraz 1, Ifraz 2, and Ifraz 3, which combined provide about 60 percent of the local supply. To lessen the strain on the existing ones, Erbil has a plan to build a new water treatment plant. 

Exacerbated by climate change, drought has impacted many parts of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in recent years. 

Iraq is ranked by the United Nations as the fifth most vulnerable country in the world to the adverse effects of climate change. Thousands have already been displaced, particularly in the southern parts, by drought, desertification, and increased salinity in the rivers. 

The KRG has built a number of dams in the region to bolster its water security.

Prime Minister Barzani on Saturday laid the foundation of Bastora Dam as part of the government's efforts to strengthen water security and boost agricultural and tourism sectors in Erbil.