Traditional water management techniques – do they have a role in post Arab Spring Middle East?

Ronny Berndtsson, Sihem Jebari, Hossein Hashemi, Joshka Wessels

Research output: Contribution to specialist publication or newspaperSpecialist publication articleResearch


Traditional management of scarce water resources has been practiced in the Middle East for thousands of years. They were developed to encompass a sustainable agricultural production in spite of small rainfall amounts in often harsh arid to semiarid environments with poor soil quality (e.g., jessour, tabiah, meskat, khooshab, qanat). Due to their efficiency, revitalized systems have been suggested as a way to at least partially cope with the present water crises in the Middle East. However, equally important to the techniques that involve harvesting of sporadic rainfall is the social organization behind the development and the continuous maintenance of the joint water-soil-plant systems. This social system is built on sharing harvested water for the entire community in the managed region. Designing improved management systems for control of flood water and rainwater harvesting would thus also require a re-vitalization or re-habilitation of the social system behind the development and maintenance. Would this be possible in an increasingly industrialized society with rapid urbanization as in present day Middle East? This paper will investigate the possibility for improved and re-vitalized flood management and rainwater harvesting systems in the post Arab spring society of today and the potential for conflict reduction or resolution it could have. If such systems could be extended over the Middle East, they could also mean less needs for transboundary water transfer and conflict reduction over larger areas.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationHydrological Sciences Journal
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Publication statusSubmitted - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Water Engineering

Free keywords

  • Traditional water management
  • Arab Spring
  • water crisis
  • Middle-East and North Africa
  • rainwater harvesting
  • qanats
  • food security


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