The Islamic Republic of Iran covers a total area of 1.75 million km2 and is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea and Turkmenistan to the north, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east, the Gulf of Oman, the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf to the south, and Iraq and Turkey to the west.
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Iran is facing unprecedented challenges in securing water and food for its growing population, which is projected to reach 92 million by 2050. These challenges are due not only to Iran’s semi-arid climate and declining precipitation over the past decade, but also to mismanagement of water resources.
Sustainable water resource management in Iraq has no shortage of challenges. Some of Iraq’s water hardships, like seasonal floods and droughts, occur naturally. Many of the most disruptive and destructive problems are, however, man-made: water infrastructure debilitated from decades of war and neglect; inefficient and outdated agricultural practices; rapid population growth and urbanization; competing water management approaches within transboundary river systems; and the looming crisis of climate change. The government of Iraq has plans to address the situation but it remains to be seen whether major reform will transpire.
Water supply and food security will pose a major challenge in the coming years, which many government officials refer to as a human security issue. Both the country’s natural climatic situation and the government policies in managing its limited water resources over the past few decades have exacerbated this challenge.
Iraq’s extensive reservoir network is at the heart of the country’s ability to manage its available water resources. The dams are operated in three independent systems: System No. 1 encompassing the Euphrates, Tigris, Greater Zab and Lesser Zab; System No. 2 encompassing the al-Adhaim watershed; and System No. 3 encompassing the Diyala watershed.