This news story is about the Marshes in Southern Iraq that Saddam drained to punish the Marsh Arabs. . .one of the many ecological disasters this charming leader was responsible for.. . . http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4177852.stm Water returns to Iraqi marshlands The marshland area has many channels which serve as byways The marshlands of Iraq, which were drained during the early 1990s, are returning to their original state. Under Saddam Hussein, the area of marsh was reduced to a tenth of its former size, as the government punished people living there for acts of rebellion. The latest United Nations data shows that nearly 40% of the area has been restored to its original condition. Drinking water and sanitation projects are under way, but the UN says that a full recovery will take many years. Way of life destroyed The marsh area, near the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was first affected by drainage programmes in the 1950s. How Iraq's marshland has re-flooded since 2003 But a more serious threat emerged in 1991, when Saddam Hussein's regime began building an extensive network of dykes and channels to take water away from the marsh area, which originally extended for almost 9,000 sq km. Satellite images showed that by 2002, the area had shrunk to only 760 sq km; an estimated 70,000 people were forced into camps in Iran. "The near-total destruction of the Iraqi marshlands under the regime of Saddam Hussein was a major ecological and human disaster, robbing the Marsh Arabs of a centuries-old culture and way of life as well as food in the form of fish and that most crucial of natural resources - drinking water," United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) executive director Klaus Toepfer said in a statement.