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The factors behind the decline of indigenous water harvesting systems and reasons to revive them

  • 5 December, 2022
  • 11:00
  • IHE Delft, Land & Water Management
  • prof.dr.ir. C.M.S. de Fraiture
  • dr. L. Hayde

Currently, water scarcity, flood hazards, groundwater depletion, water insecurity and the disruption of water networks are real concerns in many dry areas. Some 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries, of which 733 million face high and critically water-stress. Nevertheless, the use of indigenous water harvesting practices is declining. This study aims to assess the factors behind the decline of these indigenous systems and how to revive them for the purpose of addressing the problem of drought and reducing flood hazards. The findings show that the availability of easily accessible groundwater and the accompanying role and policy of the governments are the overriding factors in the decline of indigenous water harvesting systems. The results also show that already revived systems bring positive change in water supply, particularly in conflict zones, where other sources become scarce. 

Indigenous water harvesting systems are decentralized, cost-effective and constructed by local people using local materials. The decline of water harvesting practices not only leads to the loss of infrastructure but, more importantly, the loss of indigenous knowledge. Government support and the adoption of indigenous water harvesting in policies and strategies essential for the revitalization process and thus the alleviation of multiple existing water problems.

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Musaed Aklan

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