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Possibilities of Traditional Methods in Modern Water Management Systems

The development of societies especially in arid and semi-arid areas in the last 5,000 years is closely connected with water management problems. These requirements have determining shaped the relevant societies and its structures. In the course of the centuries systems and methods worked out under these conditions have conclusively demonstrated their sustainability. Today, the knowledge and structural remains of these methods are not only interesting archaeologically and historically, but can also help solve current problems.

Modern water management in many regions of the world has to cope with two particular problems. One problem is climate change and the other problem is population growth including the wish for a higher standard of living in these regions, which leads to constantly increasing needs for water.

In this context, traditional methods, compared with modern technology, offer several advantages in rural areas:

         Sustainability of these methods have already been proved by long experience with them. However, they have fallen into oblivion as a result of "technologization" and social changes.

         The methods can usually be implemented with simple means and locally available materials.

         Skilled workers and local people can apply the methods, if necessary after instruction, and later maintain the infrastructure by themselves.

         They are very economical in their consumption of primary energy, use renewable energies and can thus function in a climate-neutral way.

         In a profitability analysis the traditional methods, for underdeveloped and sparsely populated regions, can have more advantages than "modern" methods.

         Local people feel a sense of self-worth because they are actively engaged in the work with which they can identify themselves.

         If existing remains are integrated, they can be better preserved and the function remains visible.

         Installations in use are more interesting for tourists. Appropriate tourism can be an additional source of income for the region.

         Old methods are often better suited to the natural eco-system. Thus, overuse of existing resources is usually out of the question (e.g. old lifting devices can remove only as much groundwater as is created afresh, unlike electric pumps).

         The methods can, in conjunction with modern systems, open up new perspectives (in the area of irrigation, e.g. the lifting and extraction water in connection with micro-irrigation).

The seminar will cover all aspects of implementation of traditional methods into modern water management systems: social and structural conditions, possibilities of reconstruction and reintegration, maintenance, benefits and limitations. Good examples and all kind of messages will be presented in the seminar which will show that we can learn a lot from traditional methods.

Call for Papers

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Key dates: 



Submission of comprehensive “summary and conclusions”  (500-600 words)

15 January 2011 (Extended)

Receipt of full text of accepted papers

01 March 2011