WPS Working Paper: Interprovincial Water Challenges in Iraq

August 20th 2020 - 07:00

Challenges related to the water situation in Iraq are numerous and complex. While the supply of water from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers is decreasing, water demand is rapidly increasing. Iraq’s water supply has fallen by 30% since the 1980’s as a result of lower levels of rainfall, the construction of dams, heavy water use by the oil industry and the impacts of war on vital water infrastructure. By 2025, overall water supply is predicted to decrease by up to 60%, compared to 2015. Water quality has also deteriorated, resulting in  health crises and widespread protests.

The water challenges in Iraq have an interprovincial dimension that has received little attention at the national and international level. Even though the relationship between water and stability is complex and dependent on context, it can be asserted that geographical, legal, economic and socio-political factors impact the likelihood of water-related conflict.

How should this urgent and complex crisis be addressed? In this working paper, Water, Peace and Security (WPS) experts Dorith Kool, Laura Birkman and Bianca Torossian analyze this pressing and under-researched crisis and outline the building blocks to effectively address water-related conflict in Iraq.

Download the working paper here or by clicking on the “Download PDF” button on the top right of this page.

Water, Peace and Security:

This working paper is an outcome of The Water, Peace and Security (WPS) partnership. The partnership was founded in 2018 to pioneer the development of innovative tools and services that help identify and address water-related security risks. These tools and services can link hydrological, social, economic, ecological and political factors to pinpoint changes in short-term water availability and their potential impacts on society. Based on this information, evidence-based actions can be taken to mitigate human security risks, which WPS facilitates through capacity development and dialogue support.

WPS is a collaboration between the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a consortium of six partners: IHE Delft (lead partner), World Resources Institute (WRI), Deltares, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), Wetlands International and International Alert.

Dorith Kool is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS, where she contributes to projects commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs. Her primary focus is on fragile states and the role of the security sector in stabilising conflicts. Her work also includes research on the nexus between water, peace and security in Iraq. In her previous work she looked at the politicisation of peace settlements in Syria and the political dimensions of the humanitarian sector. Her main research interests include geopolitics and the security implications of climate change, hybrid warfare, security resilience and migration. She also has experience working as an Arabic translator.
Laura Birkman is a Senior Strategic Analyst at HCSS where she focuses on issues related to climate security, sustainable development, and defense. She currently leads HCSS work on Water, Peace and Security (WPS), an award winning partnership that looks to pioneer the development of innovative tools and services that help identify and address water-related security risks. She is also a member of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS).
Bianca Torossian is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS. Her studies at The University of Sydney, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Leiden University (The Hague), earned her a Bachelor degree in political science, political economy and sociology, and a Master degree in political science and international organization. For her Master Thesis, Bianca analyzed how the institutional legitimacy of the European Union was impacted by Brexit, and hopes later to reopen this line of research and explore how the nationalistic tendencies of states effect the social legitimacy of multilateral institutions. At HCSS, Bianca primarily focusses on security and diplomacy. A specific area of interest is the field of technology and AI in defense contexts, which ties into a HCSS research project that critically analyzes the challenges and opportunities posed by robotic and autonomous systems in the military. She contributes to a range projects commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence.