| BAGHDAD, Sept 21
BAGHDAD, Sept 21 Millions of Iraqis may have no
access to clean water in 15 to 20 years if Baghdad fails to
resolve its long-standing dispute over water resources with
neighbouring countries, Iraqi government officials said on
Iraq, already struggling with water shortages, says
hydroelectric dams and irrigation in Turkey, Iran and Syria have
reduced the water flow in its main rivers, the Euphrates and the
"Our expectation is that after 15 to 20 years the people in
the provinces will wake up to find no safe water for drinking
and agriculture in the Tigris and Euphrates," Iraq's Agriculture
Minister Izzedine al-Dawla told reporters on the sidelines of a
meeting with U.N. officials in Baghdad.
Dawla said Iraq was trying to introduce modern farming and
irrigation methods to ration water and overcome the shortages.
Ross Nouri Shawis, a deputy prime minister at the meeting,
said water shortages would get worse in the years to come if no
deal with its neighbours was reached.
"The problem will grow in the future and it will become an
essential life issue for Iraq and the Iraqi people," he told
Shawis said Iraq would need 70 billion cubic metres of water
annually in 2015, when only 44 billion would be available.
Iraq has been in talks with both Turkey and Syria since the
1960s for a bigger share of the water, but no agreement has been
reached so far, he said.
Water shortages pose a big challenge for Iraq due to a
rising population, depletion of resources, lack of rainfall and
advancing desertification, officials said.
Wheat and rice production have suffered in the past two
years, due in part to rising temperatures, along with a dearth
of water in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Iraq started to suffer from drought almost two decades ago
with its worst year in 2008, and global warming could mean Iraq
faces another three years of drought, Iraqi officials say.
(Reporting by Aseel Kami; editing by Rania El Gamal)