Concerns growing about potential for severe drought in Kurdistan Region

A combined photo of Sirwan river during 2020 summer (left) and the river during 2021 Spring (NRT Digital Media/Screenshot)

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SULAIMANI — The Sirwan River has largely dried up because of a lack of rain this winter and Iranian dam construction upstream, causing concern that there will be a severe drought in parts of the Kurdistan Region this summer.

One resident told NRT that farmers with livestock will be among the worst-affected because there will be less water for the animals to drink or grass for them to eat.

The water level in the river has dropped to the point where in places where people were fishing last year, they can now drive.

Water levels in Darbandikhan Lake, which is fed in part by the Sirwan River, are 300 million cubic meters lower than last year, while Dukan Lake to the north is down by 1 billion cubic meters.

General Director of the Kurdistan Region’s dams Akram Ahmed told NRT that the Kurdistan Region’s “water is in a bad state this year.”

The authorities are worried that a drought will have a number of serious impacts, including on the availability of drinking water, declines in the fish population, reduced electricity generation at Darbandikhan and Dukan dams, and damage to agriculture.

On Tuesday, Head of Garmian administration Jalal Nuri told a press conference that just 117mm (4.61 in) of rain has fallen in some areas of the Kurdistan Region so far this winter.

Summers in the Kurdistan Region are extremely dry, with almost no rain between May and late October, so building up water stores during the winter is critical for agriculture, industry, and the public.

(NRT Digital Media)