The Twilight of the Tiger

Considered by the UN as one of the five countries most exposed to the consequences of climate change, Iraq no longer counts the ills that overwhelm it: rising temperatures, galloping desertification, falling rainfall, sandstorms that follow one another. covering the country with a thin orange film.

And the Tigris, which crosses Iraq over 1,500 km? He no longer roars. Due to the lack of rain and the dams built upstream, in Turkey, where it originates.

An AFP videographer surveyed the banks of the river, from the source in the north to the sea in the south, to report on the disaster which is forcing residents to change their way of life.

In Fichkhabour, in Iraqi Kurdistan, “for two or three years“, notes farmer Pibo Hassan Dolmassa, 41, “the water is decreasing“.

Official statistics confirm this: the level of the Tigris, when it arrives from Turkey, this year is only 35% of the average quantity that flowed into Iraq over the past 100 years.

Baghdad regularly summons its neighbors Turkey and Iran to release more water. But experts also denounce poor management of water resources and wastage of water.

In the central province of Dyala, “we will be forced to abandon agriculture and sell our animals“, says Abou Mehdi, a 42-year-old farmer.

This year, due to drought, the government has halved the cultivated areas in Iraq. And as in Diyala there is not enough water, Diyala will not cultivate.

In Baghdad, this summer, the level of the Tigris was so low that AFP filmed young people playing volleyball in the middle of the river.

It’s the fault of thesandy deposits“, explains the Ministry of Water Resources. No longer being carried south for lack of flow, these deposits have accumulated at the bottom of the Tigris and the river, where the inhabitants of the capital discharge their waste water, has the greatest difficulties. to flow out.

At Ras al-Bicha (south), on the borders of Iraq, Iran and Kuwait, where the Shatt al-Arab, the main channel of the delta common to the Tigris and the Euphrates, flows into the Gulf, Molla al-Rached, 65, is worried about his palm trees which “are thirsty“.

With the drop in the level of fresh water, the waters of the sea engulf and rise in the Shatt al-Arab, infiltrating into the now salty soils.

In the far south, barefoot on his boat that he pushes with a stick, Naïm Haddad, 40, returns from a day of fishing on the Shatt al-Arab.

Like all the inhabitants of Basra, he is also worried about the salinization of the river: highly prized freshwater fish have deserted the Shatt al-Arab.

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