Overuse and climate change kill off Iraq’s Sawa Lake

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A “No Fishing” sign on the edge of Iraq’s western desert is one of the few clues that this was once Sawa Lake, a biodiverse wetland and recreational landmark.

Human activity and climate change have com-bined to turn the site into a barren wasteland with piles of salt.

Abandoned hotels and tourist facilities here hark back to the 1990s when the salt lake, circled by sandy banks, was in its heyday and popular with newly-weds and families who came to swim and picnic. But today, the lake near the city of Samawa, south of the capital Baghdad, is completely dry.

Bottles litter its former banks and plastic bags dangle from sun-scorched shrubs, while two pon-toons have been reduced to rust.—AFP