Iraq Water Resources Planning: Perspectives and Prognoses

Nadhir Al-Ansari, Ammar A. Ali, Sven Knutsson

Abstract—Iraq is located in the Middle East. It covers an area of 433,970 square kilometres populated by about 32 million
inhabitants. Iraq greatly relies in its water resources on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Recently, Iraq is suffering from water
shortage problems. This is due to external and internal factors. The former includes global warming and water resources policies of
neighbouring countries while the latter includes mismanagement of its water resources.
The supply and demand are predicted to be 43 and 66.8 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) respectively in 2015, while in 2025 it will be
17.61 and 77 BCM respectively. In addition, future prediction suggests that Tigris and Euphrates Rivers will be completely dry in
To overcome this problem, prudent water management policies are to be adopted. This includes Strategic Water Management
Vision, development of irrigation techniques, reduction of water losses, use of non-conventional water resources and research and
development planning.
Keywords—Iraq, Tigris River, Euphrates River, water scarcity, water resources management.
IRAQ is one of Middle East and North African region countries (MENA) (Fig. 1). This region is characterized
by its water shortage problem [1]-[4] where at least 12 countries have acute water scarcity problems with less than
500 m3 of renewable water resources per capita available [5], [6]. The largest consumer of water across the region is
agriculture where it accounts for 66% of demand [7] and therefore the water shortage problem cannot be objectively
analyzed nor adequately addressed without a thorough consideration of agriculture [8]. If we consider 10% transfer
of water away from agriculture would produce a 40% increase in the domestic water supply for Jordan [8].
Reference[9] argues that rather than diverting precious water to agriculture, this water could be saved by importing the
food/grain. However, this is not the case in many Middle Eastern countries which have unrealistic aspirations of food
self-sufficiency and in it would require a most fundamental change in national outlook [10]. Reference[8] emphasized
that the extent of the problem is so severe that “the future challenges in meeting the growing demands for water are
beyond the capabilities of individual countries”.

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