Meteorological, agricultural and socioeconomic drought in the Duhok Governorate, Iraqi Kurdistan

Abstract

Drought is a recurrent natural hazard that is expected to increase in the future due to anthropogenic climate change. The Middle East region witnessed a drought period between 2007 and 2009 that has been reported to have severe consequences for the population, especially in Syria and Iraq. This study seeks to assess the spatial and temporal characteristics of the drought in the Duhok Governorate in northern Iraq, focusing on meteorological, agricultural and socioeconomic drought at province and village level. Satellite-based precipitation data, validated by station data, were used in a meteorological drought assessment. To estimate the decreased precipitation’s effects on vegetation, an agricultural drought assessment was performed using Enhanced Vegetation Index from multi-temporal satellite data. Vegetation anomalies were studied at provincial level, and also at village level where the anomalies were compared with survey data showing the socioeconomic susceptibility to drought. The study confirms that precipitation dropped by approximately 50 %, leading to a negative anomaly in vegetation conditions for 62 % of Duhok Governorate’s area in 2008. Out of 50 assessed villages, 46 experienced a negative vegetation anomaly during the drought year, and three of those experienced a strong negative anomaly. Reports of drought as a problem were frequently recorded in the exposed villages, but were also related to the level of agricultural involvement. This study emphasizes the importance of understanding drought from both physical and socioeconomic perspectives. Moreover, discrepancies in the datasets make a multi-source approach essential to avoid erroneous interpretations.

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Acknowledgments

This research was conducted through the Middle East in the Contemporary World (MECW) project funded by the Swedish Research Council. We thank Dr Nazar Numan and Dr Dawood Atrushi at University of Duhok for facilitating the field work and putting us in touch with the right people. We thank the field assistants in Iraqi Kurdistan: Niwar Ameen Obaid, Shawkat Mohammad; Zinar Mosa Rasheed; Shamal Younis Yassin; Rayan Tatarkhan Sleman and Ahmed Abbas Ahmed for their help with interviews. We thank Basheer Saeed and Hosein Hamid for their assistance during the field work. We thank Dr Petter Pilesjö and Dr Martin Brandt for providing valuable comments on this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Lina Eklund.

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Eklund, L., Seaquist, J. Meteorological, agricultural and socioeconomic drought in the Duhok Governorate, Iraqi Kurdistan. Nat Hazards 76, 421–441 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-014-1504-x

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Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Drought
  • Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI)
  • Iraqi Kurdistan