Irrigation and water harvesting in times of scarcity: what we can learn from Yemen (July 29, 2011)

“…The governorates of Shabwa and Hadramout have long been renowned for their agriculture and irrigation systems. In an arid climate, their people developed irrigation systems to best exploit scarce water resources, leading to green lands and civilized cities.

Today, the neglect of traditional techniques has led to soil erosion, an increase in water salinity, and the spread of drought and desertification. This work therefore aims to lead the way in documenting the traditional systems developed in selected areas of Shabwa and Hadramout as unique and effective systems to manage water and exploit land for agriculture…”

—Baquhaizel, Saeed & Ghouth (2011) ‘Documentary study on Models of Traditional Irrigation Systems & Methods of Water Harvesting in Hadramout & Shabwah Governorates’

This is an excerpt from a recent publication documenting ingenuous irrigation/ water harvesting techniques developed in Yemen; some of them as long as 3,000 years old. This is not a glossy coffee table book merely showcasing Yemen’s glory in days past. These techniques were developed in contexts of water scarcity- a stage many parts of the world have reached and many other heading towards. The book argues that we would do well to learn from them.

“Our generation must study and preserve this expertise that has been accumulated over thousands of years but is now falling into neglect,” say the authors, environmental engineering experts with long experiences working in Yemen.

The publication was supported by Government of the Republic of Yemen and coordinated by Embassy of Kingdom of The Netherlands in Yemen. It was produced by Levert Culture and Communication and MetaMeta.   

Both English and Arabic versions of the book can be downloaded for free. 

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August 1, 2011  
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