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Qanat rehabilitation as a viable tool for collective action for social development and conflict resolution in rural communities in arid areas
[ J Wessels ] - Peace & Conflict Studies Group, Faculty of Social Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
delivering water in arid areas, ever devised by humans. The technology has given birth to thousands of settlements over the past 3,000 years and helped to sustain many more. Qanat waters have been used for drinking, flushing public toilets, bathing and washing clothes, watering livestock, irrigating orchard and vegetable crops, and ritualistic cleansing before prayer; all of the needs of life in places that lack good surface water sources. Small wetland habitats supporting aquatic vegetation and birdlife have sometimes developed in outflow areas where excess water runs through surface channels (sometimes from continued seepage after abandonment of a Qanat). Though qanats do not contribute as much to a country’s total daily needs as do other water supplies, they are significant in communities that derive most of their water from qanats. The fact that qanats exist and most of us know little about them requires that we learn all that we can before the use of this traditional technology is lost and before the vestiges of abandoned qanats have disappeared from the landscape.The international scientific community and the Government of Iraq (GoI) now considers utilizing the qanats to be a viable option for social development and conflict resolution in some situations, particularly where qanats already exist and where conditions are adequate. The work in Iraq led to a project on compiling a standard manual for rehabilitation and collective action at community level. This paper will focus on the social and economic factors for successful qanat rehabilitation and how it led to standardization in a manual for rehabilitation. When is qanat rehabilitation a viable option for social development in rural communities? Can qanat rehabilitation as a collective action function a possible tool for conflict resolution, community revitalisation and bringing rural communities closer together or is it a trigger for more disputes?
Qanat, Collective Action, Conflict Resolution, Rehabilitation, Community Development, Human Ecosystems, Iraq