The water crisis spreading in southern and central provinces of Iraq and the counttry's Kurdistan Region has been blamed on dams built by Turkey and Iran slowing river flow. There are fears that up to seven million people will be displaced due to the dramatic fall in water resources.
Turkey has said Iraqis have nothing to fear from the filling of an upstream reservoir on the Tigris River, saying “sufficient quantities of water” would continue to flow to the neighbouring country.
Turkey's ambassador to Iraq Fatih Yildiz told reporters in Baghdad that it will take nearly a year to fill the reservoir behind Turkey’s Ilisu dam.
The level of the Tigris River has visibly dropped since the filling began on Friday, with Iraqis able to cross the river on foot in some places.
The Tigris and the Euphrates, which has also been affected by upstream Turkish dams, are Iraq’s main source of water.
The recent shortages have also been blamed on dams built on tributaries in neighbouring Iran. “Nine months ago, the Iraqi water resources ministry warned of water shortage during this summer (and)called for necessary measures to be taken to tackle the issue,” Iraq’s Water Resources Minister Hassan al-Janabi said last week.