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VIDEO: Iraqi marshlands to Munich beer halls: On the frontlines of climate change

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VIDEO: Iraqi marshlands to Munich beer halls: On the frontlines of climate change

Post  GirlBye on Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:07 pm




From water-starved Iraqi marshlands to Munich beer halls, you'll find people on - or soon to be - the frontlines of climate change.

STORYLINE: 


Water is running out in the Mesopotamian Marshes in southern Iraq.
The water level at the UNESCO Heritage site dropped by almost 50 percent between April and July 2018, according to environmentalists.
It's down to a shortage of water coming from neighbouring countries and overuse by agriculture.


With the water drying up, the people who live in these areas - the marsh Arabs - are under pressure - they have fewer opportunities to feed and water the buffalo that are the cornerstone of their existence.


"Our life is dependent on the marshes," says buffalo herder, Mohammed Ghan.  
"Now there is less water, it is drying up. We have sold the livestock. They need water, the marshes. Now they sell a ton (of water) for 14, sometimes ten (thousand dinars). So it's not very good."


Water salinity increased to 4,500 parts per million, putting it into the category where it's no longer safe to drink, Nature Iraq says.
This puts more pressure on herders as buffalo cannot drink salty water.
Many herders now have to bring in tanked water from elsewhere, as the water in the canals has become undrinkable and would kill the buffalo. Animal feed also has to be brought in.


Environmentalists blame the problems on a number of changes - one is the building of dams in Turkey and Iran that has reduced the overall amount of water in the Tigris and the Euphrates, Iraq's two main rivers and the ultimate sources of the marshes. 


Another is overuse by farmers, particularly those who plant water-intensive produce like rice. 


Use of water upstream from the marshes in places like Najaf and Babel reduces the amount reaching the marshes.
Climate change is another reason - droughts have become more frequent in the past 15 years, leading to more evaporation.
The marshes of southern Iraq used to be the biggest wetlands in western Eurasia, but much of them were drained by successive Iraqi governments from the 1950s onwards. 


Since 2016, they've been listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site.
The river island of Majuli in India's north-eastern Assam state is facing an existential crisis.


Encircled by the mighty Brahmaputra river, the island has been losing landmass, its banks eroded by recurring floods that render thousands homeless every year.
The island is one of the country's most vulnerable bio-diversity spots to be impacted by the increasingly erratic rain and monsoon patterns, forcing people to adapt to new cycles of flooding.


Part of the erosion is natural as the flowing river breaches the sandy soil, but also deposits silt sediments.
70-year-old ferry operator Betharam has been witness to Majuli's plight over many decades, seeing the Brahmaputra river change course frequently and undercutting the non-cohesive soil.


Those living close to the edge of the river say part of the island is swallowed by the flood water every year, destroying their habitat and forcing people to move to the interiors and to higher ground.


Water levels have risen and many villages have been washed away, locals say.
"Brahmaputra has already (eroded) taken a lot, at least two to three kilometres since 1970. At least three kilometres have been taken away," says Betharam.
But local residents of Majuli say these measures do not offer an effective and long-lasting solution to prevent water from breaching the embankments.
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