Der Tigris stirbt
Jeden Tag fließt weniger Wasser im Tigris, der langsam stirbt und mit ihm werden die Lebensgrundlagen im Irak vernichtet.
Eine alarmierende Reportage über den Zustand des Tigris:
today the Tigris is dying.
Human activity and climate change have choked its once mighty flow through Iraq, where -- with its twin river the Euphrates -- it made Mesopotamia a cradle of civilisation thousands of years ago.
Iraq may be oil-rich but the country is plagued by poverty after decades of war and by droughts and desertification.
Battered by one natural disaster after another, it is one of the five countries most exposed to climate change, according to the UN.
From April on, temperatures exceed 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and intense sandstorms often turn the sky orange, covering the country in a film of dust.
Hellish summers see the mercury top a blistering 50 degrees Celsius -- near the limit of human endurance -- with frequent power cuts shutting down air-conditioning for millions.
The Tigris, the lifeline connecting the storied cities of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra, has been choked by dams, most of them upstream in Turkey, and falling rainfall.
An AFP video journalist travelled along the river's 1,500-kilometre (900-mile) course through Iraq, from the rugged Kurdish north to the Gulf in the south, to document the ecological disaster that is forcing people to change their ancient way of life.
- Kurdish north: 'Less water every day' -
The Tigris' journey through Iraq begins in the mountains of autonomous Kurdistan, near the borders of Turkey and Syria, where local people raise sheep and grow potatoes.
"Our life depends on the Tigris," said farmer Pibo Hassan Dolmassa, 41, wearing a dusty coat, in the town of Faysh Khabur. "All our work, our agriculture, depends on it.
"Before, the water was pouring in torrents," he said, but over the last two or three years "there is less water every day".
Iraq's government and Kurdish farmers accuse Turkey, where the Tigris has its source, of withholding water in its dams, dramatically reducing the flow into Iraq.