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Seeing Traditional Technologies in a New Light Using Traditional Approaches for Water Management in Drylands

Management of scarce water resources is a major challenge for people living in drylands (please see box for a definition of drylands). Over the centuries, dryland dwellers have overcome this challenge through traditional methods of water harvesting and management, which have ensured long-term sustainability of water resources through demand management and adequate resource replenishment. In general, these methodologies – despite being effective and cost-efficient – are either in decline or have been completely abandoned. Building up on previous work undertaken within the United Nations University (UNU) on dryland management, UNU launched an initiative in 2001 to specifically address the research needs and to evaluate the current status of traditional water technologies in drylands around the world. This summary provides the context for the case studies presented in this publication and describes how they have helped develop a better overall understanding of the traditional water management technologies, and in doing so, brought greater international attention to this field of science.
Harriet Bigas, Zafar Adeel and Brigitte Schuster
United Nations University International Network on Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)
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