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Return to Roots: Revival of Qanats in Iraq, Iran and Syria

“In recent years, Qanats, ancient hydraulic irrigation and potable water disbursement systems, are being revived to mitigate water shortages. Although Iraq has seen significant technological development in water treatment and disbursement, these projects are difficult to manage in remote or rural areas for various technical and energy related problems. Recent efforts to restore abandoned Qanats and revival of this ancient technology have great potential in providing a simple, resilient and cost-effective solution to managing the water needs of population that resides around these ancient hydraulic systems.

“This technology was disseminated in Middle-East, Asia, North Africa and Americas since 550BC. Qanats faced a period of decline due to a combination of environmental and human–induced factors. Natural factors include droughts and earthquakes. Moreover damaged Qanats were not restored, instead people resorted to over-pumping of the aquifer, the population grew, immigration increased, leading to lack of traditional knowledge

Implications from IFTF:
We are often susceptible to the easy dream of modern technology being our magic bullet to a better society. But often times, old technologies that required fewer external factors and technical expertise are much better suited for many of the development needs in isolated areas.

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