Competing over the Tigris: The Politics of Water Governance in Iraq - Auslandsbüro Irak
They are also the product of longstanding patterns of failed internal water governance – fueled by systemic corruption – in place since the US-led invasion of 2003. As a result of neglect in the various government agencies responsible for water governance, Iraq’s critical water infrastructure lies in a state of disrepair, particularly in the agricultural areas of the south where most local struggles over water originate. Irrigation channels, pumping stations, and drainage capacity have collapsed over the course of years of unexecuted contracts and failed maintenance, exacerbating water losses across the system and eroding trust in the state among agricultural communities.
An important root cause of the tensions between farmers and government agencies, and between government agencies themselves, is the fact that farmers regard the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and local authorities as negligent and corrupt in failing to uphold their end of the bargain in water governance. And instead of preventing water loss across the system by rebuilding and maintaining water infrastructure, these government agencies are increasingly placing the burden of confronting water scarcity on resource-poor agricultural communities by enforcing increasingly strict water quotas and imposing a shift to costly “modern” irrigation practices – policies that have inflamed existing tensions among different sets of water stakeholders. This paper examines contestation over water governance at three overlapping levels.