Iraq’s water challenges underline need for capacity, Water Resource Minister Al-Hamdani says

Written by Bhavna Bhasin, on 17 April 2022

Iraq needs to develop capacity so that it can handle water-related challenges arising from climate change and the absence of agreements with upstream countries, Iraqi Water Resource Minister Mahdi Rashid Al-Hamdani said during a visit this week to IHE Delft – his alma mater.

The visit by Minister Al-Hamdani and a delegation from the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) focused an ongoing capacity development project and explored opportunities to further strengthen collaboration between MoWR and IHE Delft as well as other institutions in the Dutch water sector.

“Iraq is an arid country, located downstream from two main rivers - Tigris and Euphrates. This means that more than 80% of our water comes from upper-basin countries like Turkey, Syria and Iran. However, currently there is no international agreement to manage and share water, between these riparian countries,” the minister said at a livestreamed seminar at IHE Delft.

Droughts resulting from climate change has worsened the situation, he said, noting that the country needs capacity to ensure equitable water access for all parts of Iraq, including those south of Baghdad.

Collaboration needed

IHE Delft, the MoWR and other partners are working together to enhance the capacity of the water sector in Iraq through tailor-made trainings and research initiatives. The project, initiated in 2019, is funded by the Dutch Foreign Ministry under IHE Delft’s Water and Development Partnership programme.

IHE Delft Rector Eddy Moors said Iraq’s situation underlined the need for different sectors to collaborate: the water needs of the country’s agriculture sector, which is working hard to improve food security, must be balanced with needs to reduce water use.

“I admire the ambition of Iraq to improve water use efficiency by more than 30 percent in the coming decade,” he added.

IHE Delft Interview with Mr. Al-Hamdani, alumnus & Water Resources Minister of Iraq

IHE Delft and MoWR

Since graduating from IHE Delft in 2007 with an MSc in Water Management, Minister Al-Hamdani has fostered close collaboration with the Institute.

“Since I’m an IHE alumni, I have a good understanding of what IHE can do for our country. The cooperation with IHE is central to our efforts,” he said. Currently, 18 IHE Delft alumni work at MoWR.

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