Government failure to maintain public water networks in southern Iraq has plunged the 3,134,000 people of Basra Governorate into a state of “water poverty,” a recently published study says.
The problem is compounded by reduced water flows due to dams built by Iran and Turkey upstream on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, it says. The Shatt al-Arab River, which forms at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, is Basra’s main source of water.
The study, titled “Failing Flows: Water Management in Southern Iraq” and published by the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Middle East Centre, analyzed the operating mechanism and methods used to treat water in two main purification plants in Basra.
“Public water networks in Basra suffer from negligence after several years of lack of maintenance or replacement of out-of-service water units due to weak financial funding from Baghdad’s central government,” Michael Mason, director of the center and the study’s lead author, said.
“There is an urgent need to adopt an emergency policy in southern Iraq to diversify the city’s water primary sources,” he wrote in an e-mail. (See two related articles, “New Data Show Water Scarcity Is Increasing in the Arab World, Stirring Discussion” and “Land of No Rain: How Jordan Is Facing a Parched Future.”)
In the summer of 2018, protests erupted in Basra over the lack of clean water resources in southern Iraq, the study notes. By November of that year, nearly 118,000 people had visited the city’s hospitals with severe digestive problems from drinking non-potable water from the Shatt al-Arab.