Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Iraq's agricultural and farming sectors have suffered by a prolonged reduction of water levels in rivers Photo: Arwa Ibrahim/Al Jazeera

Radwaniya, Iraq — The Tigris today is far shallower than it was a year ago, and for farmers in Iraq, that's a catastrophe. 

Why it matters: Increasingly erratic rainfall across the region, along with the construction of dams in upstream Turkey and Iran, have all reduced the amount of water flowing in the key rivers of the Tigris and Euphrates by at least 50% in recent decades, according to Iraqi government officials. Abdel Rahman al-Mashhadani, an economic expert, says a large number of people have migrated from rural areas to the cities as a result of the water shortages. "Our urban areas are imploding and unemployment is on the rise," he says.

The prolonged reduction of water levels in rivers slashes electricity generation from hydroelectric dams, which, in turn, affects the water supply for agriculture and eventually forces the country to import more food than it already does. The increasingly dry seasons have not only resulted in reduced rainfall, but also made the water that is available salty and unsuitable for farming. 

  • According to Zafer Abdullah, an adviser to Iraq's Ministry of Water Resources, Iraq has "only enough water to irrigate half of its farmland this summer." Consequently, the government has now banned the plantation of summer crops, including corn and paddy rice cultivation.
  • Abdelrahman Mansour, 23, says he was left with no choice but to abandon farming and become a construction worker. "We tried to keep our farms alive and well, but the salt water has killed everything," he says.
  • Omar Di'ibil, 35, has been a farmer in Radwaniya, on the outskirts of Baghdad, all his life — just like his father and grandfather before him. Like many others across the country, this year's crippling water shortage has left him able to grow just a few hectares of wheat and barley. Soon, he says, there won't be enough water to grow anything on his once-fertile lands.

What to watch: Turkey and Iran are already holding back water from the Tigris and Euphrates to feed their growing population in a warming climate. Unless new deals are reached, this situation will only get worse, especially after Turkey began holding back water behind its Ilisu Dam on July 1, say officials.

Go deeper

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

Updated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Health: CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use" — Death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased testing can reduce transmission.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Cities: Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.
2 hours ago - Health

Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate

Golden Gate Park. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty

Counties around the San Francisco Bay Area will adopt California’s new regional stay-at-home order amid surges in cases and ICU hospitalizations, health officials said Friday.

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a three-week stay-at-home order on Thursday that would go into effect in regions with less than 15% ICU capacity. Despite the Bay Area’s current 25.3% ICU capacity, health officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and the city of Berkeley are moving ahead with a shelter-in-place mandate in the hopes of reducing risk.