Iraq’s oil boom blamed for worsening water crisis in drought-hit south

To help extract oil, companies pump large quantities of water into the ground. For each barrel of oil, many of which are later exported to Europe, up to three barrels of water are pumped into the ground. And as Iraq’s oil exports rise, its water has dramatically fallen.

Despite the warnings, little has been done. In 2018, an acute water crisis in the city resulted in 118,000 people being taken to hospital and led to violent protests. Demonstrators threw petrol bombs at government buildings and the security forces allegedly responded with live ammunition, leaving at least five people dead.

Gas flaring – the burning of natural gas associated with oil extraction – is also a serious concern. In 2018, the gas flared within a 70km radius of Basra exceeded the total flaring volume of Saudi Arabia, China, Canada, and India combined.