The United Nation’s World Food Programme recently released a report on how a third year of drought is affecting Iraq’s economy.
The problem arises from low rainfall, dams in neighboring countries, poor water management by the government and excessive water use by farms and residents. These problems have been going on for years before the recent troubles. Nothing has really been done because the ruling parties are not interested in governing the country. Yes, they announce plans like wanting to reduce the amount of land planted but there is little follow through and a lack of real concern until something becomes a crisis.
In the meantime Iraq’s farmers are suffering There have been two years of crop failures. Wheat production in 2021-22 was 56% lower than 2019-20. In turn there has been an increase in migration from rural areas to urban ones in southern Iraq.
Iraq is already a large importer of food to meet its needs and the drought is making that worse. The Russian invasion of Ukraine also increased food prices but that was alleviated a bit by the devaluation of the dinar under Prime Minister Kazemi and an increase in oil revenues that helped the country buy more agricultural imports. The nation’s food ration system has also stabilized prices.
The only way Iraq can really find any relief from this dilemma is a change in the weather. If the country suddenly got a large amount of rainfall it could get a temporary reprieve. Otherwise Iraq is a prime example of how environmental changes and neighboring countries can conspire to wreck a country’s landscape.
World Food Programme, “Iraq Market Monitor Report,” October 20222