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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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 socio-economic 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 (EVI) 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 socio-economic 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 was also related to the level of agricultural involvement. This study emphasizes the importance of understanding drought from both physical and socio-economic perspectives. Moreover, discrepancies in the datasets make a multi-source approach essential to avoid erroneous interpretations.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Geography
  • Other Social Sciences


  • Agriculture, Drought, Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI), Iraqi Kurdistan
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-441
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

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