Returning Fresh Water to Iraq

UNESCO is tackling Iraqi water issues by building professional capacities and rehabilitating water networks.

Water issues are of the utmost importance for reconstructing Iraq’s torn society. Water is the basis for health, food security, socio-economic reconstruction and environmental sustainability. Two major wars and more than a decade of sanctions resulted in serious deterioration in accessibility and quality of water in Iraq. Lack of clean water is a substantial cause of unnecessary disease and death in Iraq.

Rehabilitation of the Kahrez Water Systems

Kahrez is the Kurdish name of the ancient water conveyance and irrigation system that has had an important role in supplying drinking and irrigation water throughout history. At the foot of rocky hills, water is collected in underground canals and carried to neighboring fields, where it is drawn off by strategically located well shafts.

Unfortunately, the Kahrez systems have been neglected in the last decades, leaving the historical structure damaged and unsustainable. UNESCO Iraq is part of a team that is rehabilitating, restoring and cleaning parts of the traditional Kahrez water resource management system in the Kurdish Governorates.  Cleared Kahrez systems will provide significantly more water for drinking and farming.

Building Capacity of Water Institutions

In the field of water management, UNESCO’s activities respond to Iraq’s urgent needs to rehabilitate and reconstruct the water planning sector. UNESCO works with the Ministry of Water Resources to enhance technical capacities of water experts, strengthen institutional capacities in integrated water resources management, and formulate a national water policy for sustainable water use.

Iraq’s water supply is dependent on the Tigris and Euphrates – two rivers shared with Turkey, Syria and Iran. To help prevent any possible water disputes and to guarantee water security for all riparian countries, UNESCO facilitates regional dialogues for collaborative water management of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Back to top