In southern Iraq, drought tightens its grip

Abu Ali carefully crank- starts a generator to pump water from a well out into his parched field in southern Iraq.

There used to be no need for a well in his village, but a creeping drought is now threatening agriculture and livelihoods in the area.

“Last year, the river started to dry up and today we only have wells to supply us with water,” the 73-year-old farmer told AFP.

Since childhood, Abu Ali and his family have lived off this land in the village of Sayyed Dakhil, to the east of Nasariyah city some 300 kilometres (180 miles) south of Baghdad.

It cost him $1,600 (1,290 euros) to dig the well, a lifeline that provides access to the water table deep below.

“The water that we draw serves as drinking water for our cows and our sheep, and despite the bitter taste, we also use it to cook and even drink ourselves,” said Abu Ali, dressed in a traditional beige robe.

But his family’s main supply of drinking water comes from six small reservoirs that are refilled at least once a week for around 20,000 dinars ($17 or 13.50 euros).

Abu Ali is determined to stay put, but the drought has already forced dozens of families to flee more than 20 villages in the area.

Weather patterns are largely to blame for the crisis, according to an engineer with Iraq’s ministry of water resources.

“For the second consecutive season, the rains have been poor and temperatures have risen,” Mehdi Rashid told AFP.

Mridha Shihab Mahmud

Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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