Abu Ali carefully starts his engine to shoot what to water his field. Before, he said, no one in his village needed a well for irrigation but today the drought threatens agriculture and more generally life in southern Iraq.
" Last year, the river started to dry up, and today we only have the wells to supply us with water, "said the 73-year-old farmer to the AFP.
of the earth since his childhood in the village of Sayyed Dakhil, east of the city of Nassiriya (300 km south of Baghdad) now relies on the water table it pumps through a well that has cost more than $ 1,600.
"The water we draw is used to feed our cows and our sheep and, despite its bitter taste, we also use it to cook and even drink," says the man in long traditional beige dress.
In addition, for drinking water, the family installed six tanks with a total capacity of 18 cubic meters, which it removes. at least every week for about 20,000 Iraqi dinars ($ 17).
Abu Ali is still there, but the drought has already driven dozens of families into more than twenty villages.
– Sources dried up by neighbors –
For Mehdi Rachid, engineer at the Ministry of Hydraulic Resources, the first responsible is the climate. "For the second consecutive season, the rains are low and the temperatures have increased", in a country where the thermometer often exceeds 50 degrees in summer, he explains.
According to him, the rain represents "30% Iraq's resources, the remaining 70% are drawn from rivers, shared with neighboring countries ", such as Iran, Turkey and Syria.
" Iran has completely diverted the course of the Karoun River and built three large dams on the Karaj River, "two of the main sources of the rivers that cross Iraq," he says.
In all, 45 tributaries that were shared the two neighbors, only three or four still exist, according to him.
As for Turkey, he continues, Iraq is "currently under discussion about the Ilisu dam", installed on the Tigris, which with the Euphrates has earned Iraq for centuries the nickname "country of the two rivers". This project was recently reported by Ankara
As water sources become scarce, the three large Iraqi dams and the twenty or so smaller ones are far from being filled.
The capacity of the reservoirs is 96 billion cubic meters, but "their current fill is only 12 billion cubic meters," says Rachid
– drought history –
As for the marshes of Mesopotamia, one of the largest wetlands of the region, they are also victims of "the worst drought in their history," says AFP Jomaa al-Daraji, a member of a defense association site.
And the water that is becoming scarce threatens, besides the provinces of Basra and Zi Qar – where are the marshes- – Other neighboring provinces, such as Diwaniya, al-Mouthanna and Missane, who live mainly from agriculture and where nearly a quarter of Iraqis live, say the officials.
The province of Diwaniya has more than 7,500 km² agricultural areas, recalls Safa al-Janabi, in charge of agriculture at the Provincial Council. But during the farming season, "at least 500 square kilometers can not be irrigated."
And while 80% of the province's agriculture depends on engines and other mechanisms needed to draw irrigation water According to Ismail Abdel Wahed, in charge of water resources in the same Council
And that, "because of the hydraulic policies of Turkey and Iran which penalize Iraq", he assures.
The drought, Oum Aqil assures that it failed him take off his son. Because agriculture in their province of Diwaniya no longer fed his man, and because the jihadists had just seized a third of his country, his son Aqil has committed.
In counter-terrorism units, he helped dislodge the Islamic State (IS) group from Mosul, their former "capital" in the north.
But he came back disabled, after losing an arm in the battle
"He joined the army because agriculture became more and more difficult because of the drought"