Iraq is frequently at odds with regional neighbours over water issues The country depends on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for nearly all of its water. Millions of Iraqis face an intolerably harsh summer, which is causing alarm and creating major water shortages in the country. The rivers, which account for more than 90 per cent of Iraq’s freshwater, are at historically low levels due to a lack of winter rainfall in the region and snowmelt, primarily in the mountains of southern Turkey, which feeds into the rivers
As summer approaches, upstream water sources have also shrunk the Tigris tributaries, cutting off the flow at the Diyala river and decreasing the flow of the Lower Zaab river by 70 per cent. This has caused a major crisis in the governorates of Diyala, Ninewa, and Basra, and farmers are now counting their losses. According to experts and officials, the effect of this plunge in water levels could destroy the ecology, worsen household water quality, which in most areas is already unsafe to drink and increase soil salinity, leaving barren land that was once fertile.
Over the six-month period analyzed in this report, Iraq experienced significant turmoil. In addition to the effects of the pandemic, with cases overall on the rise in Iraq – now in its third wave of infections – the devaluation of the Iraqi dinar in December 2020, and lower than usual seasonal rainfall, have all impacted upon the food security of households. The rainfall and water availability this year are the second lowest on record in 40 years.
Although oil prices have recovered compared to last year, the situation remains unstable. Demand and supply from major markets across the globe are affected, as countries battle deadly second and third pandemic waves. The challenge remains reconciling the government’s considerable deficit and deliveringthe promises in its White Paper, while providing sufficient support to families and farmers in need, to preserve long-term food security and ensure no one is left behind in this triple threat phase: pandemic, prices and p oor rainfall. Substantial social protection reform is still needed
In 2007 and the first half of 2008, a sharp rise in agricultural commodity and food prices triggered grave concerns about food security, malnutrition and increased poverty. While the threat of a prolonged food-price shock receded in the second half of 2008, many factors underlying the price volatility are likely to persist, and will require careful management if future food-price shocks are to be avoided. This paper suggests three strategies that, together, could reduce vulnerability to price shocks: (1) strengthen safety nets, improve access to family planning services, and promote education; (2) enhance domestic food production and improve rural livelihoods through increased investment in research and development to increase productivity; and (3) reduce exposure to market volatility through more efficient supply chains and better use of financial instruments to hedge risk. The challenge of food security will require a global response, involving governments, international and regional funding and lending institutions, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and the private secto




The Iraq Household Socio-Economic Survey conducted in 2006-07 (IHSES 2007), was Iraq’s first nationwide income and expenditure survey since 1988. Based on the model of the Living Standards Measurement Surveys, it covered more than 18,000 households, collected detailed data on all aspects of household income and expenditure and generated information on a wide variety ofsocio-economic indicators. It also formed the basis for updating the Consumer Price Index (CPI), from an outdated index based in 1990 to a revised index with the base year of 2007.Detailed analysis of poverty, its incidence, characteristics, determinantsand consequences, was undertaken using this comprehensive survey. Under the overall guidance of the Poverty Reduction Strategy High Committee (PRSHC) and a technical sub-committee, a poverty line was defined and adopted by the Council of Ministers. Detailed analysis of IHSES data is documented in the World Bank’s poverty assessment for Iraq, Confronting poverty in Iraq, and informed thenew National Strategy for Poverty Reduction, which was adopted by the Council of Ministers in late 2009.




Despite being an oil-rich, lower-middle income country, poverty remains prevalent in Iraq. This rapid review looks at the recent literature on poverty in Iraq and identifies the barriers to, and opportunities for, poverty reduction and eradication.
The literature indicates that:
3.9 per cent of people in Iraq are living in extreme poverty (2012). 18.9 per cent live below the national poverty line (2012), with greater rural poverty than urban poverty. 11.6 per cent of people in Iraq are multi-dimensionally poor (2011).
Poverty is significantly higher among larger households, those with less educated heads, women and the young.
There are high poverty headcount rates in remote, rural, and sparsely populated areas, although urban and semi-urban areas are often host to more poor people than the poorest parts because of the population size.





Every day, Iraq inches closer to hunger. The United Nations estimates that approximately 4.4 million people across Iraq require food assistance. About 30 percent of Iraqis live below the national poverty line, and this number is much higher in the poorest districts. These communities are already struggling with limited resources and basic foodstuffs, a situation made worse by the growing number of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The country faces a stark and multifaceted food security challenge. In the short term, protracted conflict is generating localized food shortages. In the longer term, inflexible policies and government illiquidity are leading to decreased domestic food production and higher import dependency.
In June 2014, with the Islamic State’s (IS) incursion into Salahuddin, Nineveh, Kirkuk, and Anbar—the breadbasket governorates comprising Iraq’s cereal belt—the country lost the majority of its annual wheat and barley harvests from these areas, which combined contributed over one-third of Iraq’s cereal production. About 1 million tons of wheat was lost in 




10 April 2017 – Warning that deepening food insecurity in Iraq could leave more than half the population facing “unprecedented levels” of vulnerability, the United Nations emergency food relief agency today called for improving nutrition awareness and strengthening social safety nets and livelihoods in rural areas, to avoid a hunger crisis in the country.
In its Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis, prepared jointly with the Iraqi Government, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) also underlined the need to improve access to education, especially for girls, as an important component in the fight against hunger.
[The Analysis] should guide the work of the Government, policy makers, and humanitarians across the country to improve the food security and nutrition status of every Iraqi so that no one is left behind,” the WFP Representative and Country Director in Iraq, Sally Haydock, said in a news release

The study – one of the most robust technical food security studies ever conducted in Iraq – was conducted prior to the recent offensive in Mosul and does not capture the food security situation among people fleeing these conflict areas. Data collection was concluded in 2016 and included first hand surveys with more than 20,000 families in urban and rural areas as well as with those who are internally displaced.




The agriculture sector is vital to Iraq’s economy and has been the second largest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has escalated armed activities in the summer of 2014 at a particularly crucial time in the agricultural calendar, leading to significant damage and loss to the sector.Harvested wheat, barley and vegetables were lost due to population displacements, looting and the burning of grain bins. Farmers were unable to plant for the next agricultural season. According to a research conducted in March 2016, Iraq has lost 40 percent of agricultural production since ISIL began occupying some of the most important agricultural areas in 2014, with damages continuing from the current armed conflict.In this context, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has conducted an agricultural damage and loss needs assessment across six of Iraq’s 18 governorates – Anbar, Babil, Diyala, Ninewa, Salah al-Din and Wassit. Between December 2016 and January 2017, the assessment collected field data through community-level focus group discussions and key informant interviews.




BAGHDAD – More than half of Iraqi families are at risk of food insecurity and can no longer absorb any further shocks such as conflict or increases in basic food prices, a joint WFP-Iraqi Government food security report said today.
The report, one of the most robust technical food security studies ever conducted in Iraq, warns of unprecedented levels of vulnerability and provides key recommendations to avoid a hunger crisis in the country.
“The Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis should guide the work of the government, policy makers, and humanitarians across the country to improve the food security and nutrition status of every Iraqi so that no one is left behind,” said Sally Haydock, WFP Representative and Country Director in Iraq.
The study, which was conducted prior to the recent offensive in Mosul and does not capture the food security situation among people fleeing these conflict areas, found that 2.5 percent of Iraqis are already food insecure – a level of need that requires support. Almost 75 percent of children under the age of 15 are working to help their families to put food on the table rather than going to school.
Data collection was conducted hand-in-hand with the Government of Iraq and concluded in 2016. More than 20,000 Iraqi families were surveyed in urban and rural areas, including people who were internally displaced and those living in their homes.