In the agricultural south of Iraq, drought increases

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.

 An Iraqi farmer in front of a greenhouse in Diwaniyah, about 160 km south of the capital Baghdad, on April 2, 2018 (AFP - Haidar HAMDANI)

An Iraqi farmer in front of a greenhouse in Diwaniyah, about 160 km south of the capital Baghdad, on April 2 2018 (AFP – Haidar HAMDANI)

– 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.

 An Iraqi farmer digs with a shovel in a field in Diwaniyah, about 160 km south of the capital Baghdad, 2 April 2018 (AFP - Haidar HAMDANI)

An Iraqi farmer digs with a shovel in a field in Diwaniyah, about 160 km south of the capital Baghdad, on 2 April 2018 (AFP – Haidar HAMDANI)

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.

 Abu Ali (CG), a 73-year-old Iraqi farmer connects a hose to try to irrigate his dried field in Sayyed Dakhil village, 300 km south of Baghdad, on March 20, 2018 (AFP - HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI)

Abu Ali (CG , a 73-year-old Iraqi farmer, hooks up a pipe to try to irrigate his parched field in Sayyed village Dakhil, 300 km south of Baghdad, March 20, 2018 (AFP – HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI)

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

 Young Iraqis pour water into a pipe in a field in Diwaniyah, about 160 km south of the capital Baghdad, April 2, 2018 (AFP - Haidar HAMDANI)

Iraqi youths pour water into a pipe in a field in Diwaniyah, about 160 km south of the capital Baghdad, on April 2, 2018 (AFP – Haidar HAMDANI)

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"

Ardèche chestnut: producers will be compensated after the drought

Producers of chestnuts in Ardèche will be able to benefit from compensation thanks to the recognition of the agricultural calamity situation, after the drought of 2017 which cut their harvest by 60%.

This recognition is valid on 159 communes of the center and the north of the department, announces the prefecture Monday. Farmers in the region, who are often both breeders and producers of chestnuts, have already obtained this status for fodder.

The 2017 harvest of chestnuts has reached barely 1,500 tons when it oscillates between 4 and 5,000 tons usually , the Ardèche ensuring half of the French production, according to the Syndicate of defense of the chestnut of Ardèche.

The castanéiculteurs will be indemnified at the level of 20 to 30% of their losses, indicates to AFP Daniel Vernol, president of the union

According to him, it is the worst memory harvest of castaneiculteur. For 2018, it is much too early to give a trend, even if the abundant rains have allowed the trees to restart with a sufficient supply of water.

The sector had already been confronted in recent years with cynips, small wasp coming from Asia, arrived in Ardèche in 2010, which weakens the trees by laying in their buds and can lead to their death.

Drought: thousands of Spanish farmers protest for aid

Thousands of farmers from southeastern Spain demonstrated in Madrid on Wednesday, calling on the government for help in the face of the "surreal" drought that is hitting them and threatening jobs in their area. Europe

The surroundings of Alicante, Murcia and Almeria, on the Spanish coast of the Levant, where fruit and vegetables are produced in all seasons for all of Europe, suffer particularly from drought. Spain is experiencing one of its worst droughts since the beginning of the 1980s.

"Without water in the Levant, desert and unemployment Let's defend Europe's kitchen garden", could be read on a banner in the parade. 19659002] "80% of the water was cut off", AFP José Antonio Diaz, manager of an agricultural company in the Almeria region, complains about the empty water supply in the area. four-fifths in the south-east of Spain, according to him.

He says he was able to grow only 15 to 20% of his usual production of salads and watermelons, a situation "surrealist."

Some farmers, he says, have even considered moving some of their production to southern France, around Montpellier, where water is more abundant.

"In 39 years, I have never known such a serious year, "says Pepe Rodriguez, a 59-year-old farmer from the Murcia region.

" What are we going to do with all immigrants there we have there? ", he wonders, worried about the jobs many families in his region live in, including many workers from Africa.

He wants the government to subsidize desalination of seawater, a very expensive technology for the time being, and put in place in the longer term a system of water transfer from the rivers of the north, wetter, to the south.

Reserves of water from the Jucar and Segura basins, the two main rivers draining southeast Spain, were 27.7% and 17.6% respectively, according to official data released on Tuesday.