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Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 294–305 | Cite as

Reviving ancient water tunnels in the desert—Digging for gold?

  • Joshka WesselsEmail author
Article

Abstract

The water shortage in the Middle East is a well-known problem. The introduction of diesel operated pumps for irrigation has caused a severe drop in groundwater levels. At the same time the demand for groundwater is growing to alarming proportions. Alternative ways of groundwater supply and management need to be found to halt social and economical disaster in the future. Why not look at history? Qanats are subterranean tunnels ancient civilizations built to access groundwater. The technique is a sustainable method of groundwater extraction Throughout the Middle East some settlements still make use of these ancient systems. In the summer of 2000, a community rehabilitation of a qanat was executed with support from the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) and international donors. The renovation served as a pilot community intervention within a participatory action research project aimed at evaluating the use of qanats in Syria. In a second stage of the project, the pilot was scaled up to a nation-wide survey of Syrian qanats in 2001. This resulted in qanat renovations on other sites executed in 2002 and 2003 with further international support. This paper compares the first pilot renovation with a recent qanat renovation that took place in Qarah, Syria.

Keywords

Traditional water management community action participatory action research Syria Middle East 

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Copyright information

© Institute of Moutain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Science Press 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Amsterdam Research Institute for Global Issues and Development Studies (AGIDS)UK

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