Farmers in northern Iraq struggle as oil spills contaminate lands amid drought.

Hard-scrabble farmers in northern Iraq, particularly in the hills of Salaheddin province, face significant challenges as oil spills contaminate their lands. Despite Iraq’s tremendous oil wealth, farmers battle drought, with crude spills during winter rains exacerbating the situation. While authorities attribute the spills to the Islamic State group’s activities in 2014, local farmers criticize the slow state response in cleaning up the mess. The contamination affects farmland fertility, soil, crops, and groundwater, posing environmental challenges in a country already grappling with the impacts of climate change, blistering heat, and severe drought.