Ranked the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change, Iraq’s environmental and energy challenges directly affect its overall stability and prosperity. Working with the Government of Iraq, the private sector and affected communities, USAID is mitigating the impact of climate change by strengthening water management and governance systems, promoting renewable energy solutions, improving management of strategic resources, and supporting businesses developing climate-smart innovations.

Over the past two decades, a steady decrease in Iraq’s precipitation, combined with higher temperatures, is creating some of the worst drought conditions in its recorded history, resulting in reduced yields of important crops, such as wheat and barley. Despite being one of the world’s leading oil producers, Iraq relies on Iranian oil and gas imports, as well as diesel generators, to meet growing energy needs. Iraq also flares approximately $3.8 billion worth of gas annually, which is economically and environmentally unsustainable. Iraq’s climate risks impact the country’s overall stability and prosperity: ongoing water shortages and rising temperatures are placing growing pressure on basic resources and reducing opportunities for livelihoods in once-prosperous sectors, such as agriculture. 


USAID supports the Government of Iraq (GOI) to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, improve management and governance of energy resources, implement renewable energy projects, and restore agricultural lands. USAID also leverages the private sector to address climate change issues by facilitating access to financing and investment opportunities for firms developing innovative solutions to conserve water and energy.

Since 2015, USAID has invested over $150 million to improve Iraq’s water availability and management, increasing access to potable water for over 12 million Iraqis. Through the Water and Development Alliance (WADA), in partnership with Coca-Cola, USAID piloted a successful water-loss reduction program in the city of Soran in Iraqi Kurdistan, one of Iraq’s fastest growing districts. This initiative introduced new management practices and upgraded the water network, saving over 1.1 billion liters of water annually.

Through the Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) Grand Challenge, USAID supports Iraqi small-and medium-sized enterprises working in agriculture, energy, and water to develop projects that sustainably increase food production. Entrepreneurs have received about $500,000 in climate-friendly innovative investments in the agriculture sector. The innovative projects have saved over 700 Mwh of electricity, over 4 million liters of water, and over 9,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

USAID’s Iraq Governance and Performance Accountability project supported the Iraqi Ministry of Environment to promote good climate governance and implement climate-friendly service delivery models in the areas of solid waste management, water, and electricity. This includes business process re-engineering for efficiency, cost recovery, improved GOI procurement processes, and capacity development/training on water treatment, such as managing salinity and bacterial contamination. This activity also provided information technology solutions to manage water resources and trained staff on detecting leaks and illegal connections, reducing water wastage by 30 percent in five provinces. 

USAID’s Durable Communities and Economic Opportunities project partners with the private sector to support young entrepreneurs’ climate-smart business ventures and the transition to a more sustainable energy industry. The project mobilizes private finance and encourages corporate decisions that support the transition to more sustainable, resilient, and climate-adaptive power sources. Additionally, the project provides technical assistance and seed funding to youth entrepreneurs' climate-smart businesses that promote innovative agricultural techniques and present renewable energy solutions.

In response to the Basrah water crisis, USAID’s Funding Facility for Stabilization program supported the upgrade and rehabilitation of seven water treatment infrastructure projects, which ensured more reliable and clean water to over 80,000 residents. USAID also helped establish the Basrah Water Crisis Committee, which provides a roadmap to mitigate future water crises.

USAID also supports over 140 water infrastructure projects in Anbar, Ninewa, and Salah al-Din provinces, helping to reduce water wastage and provide clean water to residents. In Anbar alone, USAID has helped ensure access to safe water to over 1.3 million residents.

The USAID-sponsored Funding Facility for Economic Reform supports the GOI to meet Iraq's 2030 vision for enhancing climate resilience targets, increasing renewable energy use, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. USAID also supports the Ministry of Environment to develop a five-year climate strategy and produce its National Appropriate Mitigation Action Plan, a contingency plan for mitigating environmental hazards.

Key Results

  • Provided around $1.7 million to SMEs working in green energy/climate-related sectors.
  • Trained over 145 water directorate staff in strategic planning and water system management. 
  • Improved water access for over 12 million Iraqis.
Solar Farm at the University of Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan Region.
Solar farm at the University of Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan Region. The 2 MW solar farm was funded by the European Union, implemented by UNDP, and facilitated through USAID's Iraq Governance and Accountability project. The plant will bring clean power to 300,000+ people to cut 1,800 tons of carbon emissions annually.
Photo: USAID