Tents are seen in Tahrir Square during an anti-government sit-in in Baghdad on December 26, 2019. (Ameer Al Mohmmedaw/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

The climate in the Middle East and North Africa is warming twice as fast as the average global temperature rise, but in Iraq, this is happening two to seven times faster. Although drought is a natural phenomenon in the region, global warming is adding to the challenge for people living there to adapt to water scarcity. In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change marked the region as being extremely vulnerable to climate change, mainly due to rising temperatures and declining water resources. The region’s recurrent violence—due to political conflicts and wars—further complicates efforts to respond to these problems.

Responses to Climate Impacts

A well-known example of what could be considered a climate-induced conflict is the 2018 violent protests which took place in Basra, southern Iraq, where extreme heatwaves eventually led to the deterioration of the water supply in the city’s main river, the Shatt al-Arab. In 2019, these youth-led protests for better services were succeeded by a series of grassroots demonstrations across the country to demand major economic, social and, political reforms known as the Tishreen Movement.

Climate change is not the only culprit that is causing problems with water supplies and related issues like water pollution and desertification. These problems result from a series of interrelated issues, ranging from poor water governance to institutional corruption. Read more