The UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office in cooperation with UNESCO Kabul Office, International Centre on Qanats and Historical Hydraulic Structure (ICQHS) and the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, together with the Yazd Regional Water Authority co-organized the Training Course on “Qanat Construction and Mainenance for Afghan Experts and Practitioners” in Yazd from 28 to 30 April 2019.
The three-day training course brought together four young Afghan experts in the field of hydrology and Qanats.
During the opening ceremony of the event, Mr. Hossein Ghafori, Director of the ICQHS opened the ceremony and welcomed the participants. Ms. Saray Lobato de la Fuente, Consultant for Natural Sciences of UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, remarked on the importance of maintaining and restoring the historic Qanats system. “As a system of gently sloping subterranean canal, Qanats run across the dessert like the body’s vines, bringing life and prosperity to the people who used to live off the water flowing down them. Thus, it is not exaggerating to say that Qanats are the focal point of the genesis of civilization and accordingly should be seen as technical and cultural legacy, which deserves more attention.”, said Ms. Lobato de la Fuente. She then highlighted the significance of passing on the ancient technique of Qanats construction to the young generation.
The other speakers on the occasion included Dr. Semsar Yazdi, the Senior Advisor of the Centre, who expressed the hope of establishing a better cooperation between ICQHS and Afghanistan; Mr. Rabanizada, Water Resources and Environmental Specialist from the Senior Advisory Office to the President of Afghanistan on Agriculture and Development, and Dr. Mostafavi from Yazd Agricultural Jahad Organization.
In Mr. Rabanizada’s speech, he stressed the perilous condition of Qanats in rural areas due to the immigration trends to urban area and the loss of indigenous knowledge in Qanats. Dr. Mostafavi talked about the abundant knowledge that Yazd has in terms of Qanats and mentioned that the province has already built an online database regarding the situation of local Qanats which may serve as a model for other areas.
The objective of the training course was to make contribution to preserve the ancient Qanats system in Afghanistan as well as its building technique.
During the first day, Iranian experts and ICQHS colleagues conducted four theoretical sessions on Qanat construction. Also, the experts and Ms. Saray Lobato de la Fuente from UNESCO visited the Yazd Water Museum and some other historical sites in the Old City of Yazd, which is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The second day was crucial for the experts as they attended three sessions on Qanat maintenance and had the opportunity to discuss with an expert from the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad on practical cases in the Yazd province. In addition, they visited the Qanat of Ghasem Abad, which was unexpectedly dried up.
The delegation also got the chance to discuss with one of the villagers about the developments in the Qanat of Ghasem Abad in recent years.
Finally, the training course concluded by a trip to the Vazir watermill and the Qanat of Hasan Abad Moshir in Mehriz, along with other sites in the surrounding area of Yazd. These field visits visualized the real scenario of the Qanats constructing and maintaining process as well as showcased the advantages and disadvantages of using this system as the means of extracting water resources.
The four Afghan participants then expressed their gratitude to the organizers for the privileged opportunity, which has helped them further understand the building technique and maintenance practices. They also showed the will of personally devoting to the project of maintaining the Qanats system in Afghanistan. A second phase of the training course is planned to take place in Kabul before the end of 2019.