Is Traditional Water Management the Future?

Published on May 26th, 2010 | by

The world’s water situation is only going to get more challenging in the coming years. There will be more people a water supply that is increasingly polluted and often distributed with aging infrastructure. Clearly we will need to embrace new methods of water management- is it possible that those methods have been around for thousands of years? The International Traditional Knowledge Institute (ITKI), a new research group founded in Bagno a Ripoli, Italy, is teaching that traditional methods from the Sahara, Ethiopia and Babylon will work well with new technologies like solar power.

Photo Credit: 10 Ninjas Steve Will the future of water management come from the traditions of the Sahara?
Will the future of water management come from the traditions of the Sahara?

“Traditional knowledge and its innovative use is the basis for sustainable technology, and essential for the development of a new model of human progress.” — Pietro Laureano, founding president of ITKI.

ITKI is backed by the UN and UNESCO, where its founder Laureano is a desertification consultant in addition to his work as an anthropologist and landscape architect. Their mission is “safeguarding and validating traditional knowledge” with the primary goal of combating global warming in addition to protecting cultural heritage like folklore, music and symbolism. Laureano adds that ITKI will also “work with indigenous peoples… to protect their rights and not allow corporations to make patents on their knowledge.”

Laureano’s research includes rainwater capture systems, rooftop gardens and subsoil tunnels for water storage. The core of his argument is that traditional methods can augment new technologies and that it is folly to abandon them.

“The deep trenches used for example in Lalibela, northern Ethiopia, were abandoned, and now (it) has no water. Now they depend on technology and industrial systems. With climate change, we are obliged to come back to systems that save energy, that don’t need much capital.” – Pietro Laureano


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