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Iraq's Kurdistan to build 4 dams

Al-Sodor Bridge, over the Tigris River, near al-Mansuriya in Iraq's Diyala province [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images]
Al-Sodor Bridge, over the Tigris River in Iraq, 21 April 2021 [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images]

The Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese company, Power China, to build four new dams without the knowledge of the federal government in Baghdad, according to the official Iraqi newspaper, Al-Sabaah.

The official spokesman for the federal Ministry of Water Resources, Ali Radi, said that although three of these dams mentioned are present within the strategic study of the federal ministry for the year 2035, the establishment of these dams – according to the study – was for the purposes of generating electric power exclusively and not to store water.

Radi said, in statements to the Qatari channel Al Jazeera, that the construction of these dams, and in the manner announced, will have significant negative effects on the waters in Iraq, especially the feeding of the rivers, specifically the Tigris River.

He called on the Kurdistan Regional Government to back down from building these dams or to construct them according to the plan of the Federal Ministry of Resources, as it is responsible for managing the water file in the country.

Radi pointed out that Iraq is suffering from a major water crisis as a result of climate change, as it is among the top five affected countries, calling for the management of the water file in Iraq to be under the supervision of the federal government in Baghdad.

The KRG's decision comes after Turkey and Iran limited the flow of water originating from their lands towards Iraq.

Over the past years, Iraq has suffered from an escalating crisis in the provision of water. This forced the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to reduce water quotas, amid fears of drought.

Since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the revenue rates of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers have decreased by about 50 per cent from their normal rates. This caused the exclusion of about 64,000 acres of productive agricultural land from service, according to semi-official statistics, which prompted the Iraqi government to conduct meetings with Turkey and Iran regarding the quantities of water reaching it.

READ: Iraq moves to sue Iran over water access

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