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Research Portfolio

The research portfolio of the Iraq Salinity Project is put into action by research teams working in five different sites: Dujailah, Mussaiab, Abu-Khaseeb, West Gharrraf, Shat-al-AlArab and Al Nassiriah in central and southern Iraq. Research will produce a picture of the current situation in Iraq and will include date baseline information that will be the basis for long-term salinity management strategies. Analyses and work with farmers are in progress at three scales: Irrigation, irrigation system and farm.Research areas are:

1- The spatial distribution of salt-affected areas

2 – Socio economic impacts and constraints in the saline lands

3 – The relationship between groundwater levels, salinity and irrigation activity and ideas for best groundwater management

4 –The status of irrigation and drainage assessing the various factors that led to the deterioration of the drainage facilities

5 – Causes, effects, and approaches to salinity management with detailed analyses of best practices in the farm

6 – Best adapted salt-tolerant crop and forage genotypes

Iraq forms part of the Fertile Crescent, a vast area between the Tigris and Euphrates. The natural rise and fall of these two rivers and later irrigation in these areas sparked the change from nomadic hunter-gatherer groups to settled farming.

The degradation of salt-induced land is compounded by the increasing levels of salt in the irrigation water from both the Euphrates and Tigris rivers due to changed water regimes. These changes are caused by a combination of upstream damming of the rivers and their tributaries in Turkey and Syria, as well as recent events of climate change and variability that has seen prolonged drought or reduced rainfall in the catchment areas of the rivers.

This research will also examine how salt levels have built up and assess salt distribution and irrigation water salinity. Research aims to:

  • Develop a robust picture of how the process of salinization occurs in central and southern Iraq based on research from field to basin level and quantify salt and water fluxes and the areas affected by salinity.
  • Determine appropriate strategic approaches to manage salinity that suit local environmental and socio-economic conditions.
  • Assess factors that impact productivity and determine opportunities to improve yield systems.
  • Develop investment options for ongoing salinity management in Iraq.