Turkey’s capital Istanbul could run out of water in the next 45 days if rain does not fall. Other major cities in the country also face the risk of running dry in the next few months. These circumstances are due to poor rainfall in the past year, leading to the country’s severest drought in over a decade. Istanbul alone is home to over 17 million people but has very low levels of water.

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Akgün İlhan, a water management expert at the Istanbul Policy Center, says that the country has been approaching the water scarcity issue the wrong way.

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“Instead of focusing on measures to keep water demand under control, Turkey insists on expanding its water supply through building more dams … Turkey has built hundreds of dams in the last two decades,” İlhan said. “The warning signs have been there for decades but not much has been done in practice.”

Other cities facing major water scarcity include Izmir and Bursa. In Izmir, the dams are about 36% full while Bursa dams are approximately 24% full. Further, farmers in wheat-growing areas are struggling to retain their crops. Experts warn that if it does not rain soon, they risk losing a year’s yield.

Turkey is a water-stressed country, with just 1,346 cubic meters of water available per person each year. The country has had to battle with severe droughts since the 1980s, but the situation has been getting worse. Droughts have now become recurrent and more severe due to climate change, which has been accelerated by industrialization and urbanization. To make the problem worse, population growth over the years continues to put pressure on the country’s water resources.

Ümit Şahin, who teaches global climate change and environmental politics at Istanbul’s Sabancı University, said that government policies have not prioritized the conservation of water resources despite the fact that the country is water-stressed.

“Yet in Istanbul, for instance, the most vital water basins, the last forests and agricultural land, [have been opened] to urban development projects … the new airport, the new Bosphorus bridge, its connection roads and highways, and the Istanbul canal project,” Şahin said. “These policies cannot solve Turkey’s drought problem.”

Via The Guardian

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