When traditional and modern knowledge and practices marry
"Management practices that build on the right mix of traditional knowledge, contemporary technology and innovative scientific research yield optimum results," says Dr. Richard Thomas, Assistant Director at UNU-INWEH, responsible for dryland ecosystems, and a co-author of the report.
Traditional practices, evolved over time for the capture, storage and efficient use of scarce and variable rainwater, floodwaters and groundwater resources, work well in dryland conditions. Examples include the Roman underground cisterns, traditional garden terracing and irrigation systems, and traditional floodwater spreading achieving groundwater recharge.
SUMAMAD researchers demonstrated that traditional designs for water storage cisterns and ponds, for example, can be greatly improved with modern materials and construction techniques.
In parts of Egypt, meanwhile, where well water for drinking is a problem due to high salinity, new desalination technologies using solar energy were successfully introduced, virtually eliminating the cost of buying water and improving health through better water quality.
The study also reports the success of innovative water management techniques used by communities in Tunisia to grow olive trees, the waste from processing olive oil used to improve soil stability.
In the grasslands of China's Inner Mongolia, meanwhile, where cattle and sheep farming has led to severe land degradation, SUMAMAD worked with several families to test chicken farming as an alternative.
The project produced economic returns per hectare for chicken farming nine times higher than for cattle and sheep while fostering natural restoration of the grassland ecosystem which has resu
|Contact: Terry Collins|
United Nations University